Friday, May 17, 2024

Paragraph 156

O my friend, were the bird of thy mind to explore the heavens of the Revelation of the Qur’án, were it to contemplate the realm of divine knowledge unfolded therein, thou wouldst assuredly find unnumbered doors of knowledge set open before thee. Thou wouldst certainly recognize that all these things which have in this day hindered this people from attaining the shores of the ocean of eternal grace, the same things in the Muḥammadan Dispensation prevented the people of that age from recognizing that divine Luminary, and from testifying to His truth. Thou wilt also apprehend the mysteries of “return” and “revelation,” and wilt securely abide within the loftiest chambers of certitude and assurance.


You may recall that this entire book is to help answer the questions of the uncle of the Bab. It also can help us become better teachers of the Cause when we understand both the methods and arguments used by Baha'u'llah to do this. Now is a good time to look at another one of those methods.

Baha'u'llah begins this paragraph by addressing the uncle as "O my friend". He is not talking down to the uncle, from the perspective of "I know, and you do not". Instead He addresses him as a loved friend. This is indicative of great love and respect, treating him as an equal, a fellow-believer. In some ways it is as if they are exploring these questions together.

How often do we do this when we are asked questions about the Faith? Of course, that is not a question we will answer here, but just leave for us all to ponder, especially ourselves, the writers of this little blog. Either way, it is a good thing to do, for who knows what we will learn when we answer questions from this approach. It is demonstrative of an open mind, that sign of detachment so necessary in the first part of the book.

The very next thing He does is refer to "the bird of thy mind". Such beautiful imagery, filled with poetry. "Exploring the heavens of the Revelation of the Qur'an", "securely abide within the loftiest chambers of certitude and assurance".

Here we are reminded of a bird that was living the backyard, a blue jay. The bird made its nest of twigs, not leaves, very high in the tree. It was a strong nest, one that would not be blown away by the strong winds. It was high enough, at the very edges of the branches, that it did not have to worry about squirrels or cats, for they could never climb out that far. They were also sure to build the nest over soft ground, not rocky and hard ground or over concrete. The nest was placed so that if an egg should happen to fall, there was a chance it would not break. Once it was built in a safe and secure location, then the birds were ready to create the eggs. Another interesting aspect is that once the nest was built, no other birds would build a nest in the same tree. It was reserved for those birds alone who built the nest.

We see this as a beautiful analogy for our faith. We need to build it securely, safe from predators. And once we do, then we can begin to think about the propagation of the Faith, teaching others. Also, when our personal faith is built on a solid foundation, nobody will try to intrude upon it. We may welcome them to ask questions and join us in our search for greater truths, but the tree of our faith is for us alone.

Continuing with the nature analogies, Baha'u'llah also mentions the "ocean of eternal grace", bringing us right back to the very beginning of this book and the "shores of the ocean of true understanding". Over and over He brings us back to this beginning, reminding us of the paramount importance of detachment.

This ties in so beautifully to the reminder that those things that prevented people from recognizing in the past are those same things that prevent them from recognizing today. In fact, it is this very similarity, these same arguments, that are yet another of the signs of the Return. Over and over, we see the same signs again and again, if we but look.

And another of those signs is what we call the "great reversal", the high being brought low and the low being raised up. We see this in the Bible, the Qur'an, and again here.

We were thinking of referring to Shaykh Salman, the barber, and how when he was in the presence of Baha'u'llah he could recite such beautiful poetry, but when he was not around the Manifestation, his poetry was only mediocre. Instead, though, we want to mention Mubarak, the Bab's Ethiopian servant who was there to welcome Mulla Husayn at the door on the night of the Declaration of the Bab.

Here is a lowly servant, who, to all outward seeming, was amongst the lowest of the low, but his heart was pure, and he had an undying love and devotion for the Bab. The Bab said that when they rejected Him and His Message, Muhammad Shah and his prime minister Haji Mirza Aqasi descended to the lowest abyss. While Mubarak, who was considered a lowly house servant, ascended to the heaven of glory for "having done good in the realm of faith". This is another example of the unexpected signs of the Return.

Finally, we once again notice the use of quotes in this book. When reading all sorts of commentaries and books studying various sacred writings, we find that people love to throw in all sorts of quotes, as many as they can, touching on a theme. If the word "youth" is mentioned, for example, they will often grab every use of the word that they can, filling pages and pages with all sorts of citations, whether or not they have anything to do with the theme.

Baha'u'llah doesn't do that. First, He is primarily citing the Qur'an, as that is the book revered by the uncle. He doesn't quote the Bab, for example, but instead quotes the book that was given to us to teach us about His coming. And when Baha'u'llah does quote from the Qur'an, He does so precisely, and purposefully. The quote is never just the single line, but always used to explore the topic at hand with the context of the quote itself. They are always done very precisely. Not a single quote is used that can be omitted. To leave any out would diminish the power of the argument, and leave out a crucial understanding to the whole point.

Instead of using a shotgun effect, He uses the quotes with a laser-like accuracy.

This is another thing we can learn from Him in this book. When we quote the Writings with precision, we avoid the risk of overwhelming the listener with too much information.

Tuesday, May 7, 2024

Paragraph 155

This station is also one of the signs of the Day of Revelation; even as it is said: “The abased amongst you, He shall exalt; and they that are exalted, He shall abase.” And likewise, He hath revealed in the Qur’án: “And We desire to show favor to those who were brought low in the land, and to make them spiritual leaders among men, and to make of them Our heirs.” It hath been witnessed in this day how many of the divines, owing to their rejection of the Truth, have fallen into, and abide within, the uttermost depths of ignorance, and whose names have been effaced from the scroll of the glorious and learned. And how many of the ignorant who, by reason of their acceptance of the Faith, have soared aloft and attained the high summit of knowledge, and whose names have been inscribed by the Pen of Power upon the Tablet of divine Knowledge. Thus, “What He pleaseth will God abrogate or confirm: for with Him is the Source of Revelation.” Therefore, it hath been said: “To seek evidence, when the Proof hath been established is but an unseemly act, and to be busied with the pursuit of knowledge when the Object of all learning hath been attained is truly blameworthy.” Say: O people of the earth! Behold this flamelike Youth that speedeth across the limitless profound of the Spirit, heralding unto you the tidings: “Lo: the Lamp of God is shining,” and summoning you to heed His Cause which, though hidden beneath the veils of ancient splendor, shineth in the land of ‘Iráq above the dayspring of eternal holiness.

 

When we read this paragraph, there were so many things that came to mind. We wanted to ask, initially, which station is being referred to in in the first phrase, and then go on and cite the examples that came to mind with the rest of the paragraph. We wanted to talk about the fishermen that Jesus called forth to become saints. We wanted to mention the Sifter of Wheat who responded so swiftly to the call of Mulla Husayn.

But honestly, this all paled in comparison to a point that came up in our discussion, which was just how many people we knew who seemed to be afraid of diving into this book. They say that it is too difficult for them, that they aren't educated enough, or that the language is too lofty.

Honestly, all of this is, as Samuel says, "Hogwash."

To start, the station referred to comes from the previous sentence: "the most unlettered of all men... is accounted as one of those divinely learned men whose knowledge is of God".

Baha'u'llah wrote for all people, the educated and the un-, the high and the low. He wrote for all of us.

When He says that the abased shall be exalted, that the ignorant shall attain the summit of knowledge, this is part of what He means.

When you have study groups, the light of consultation brings forth truths that you would never find on your own. Their insights become your insights. Your understanding adds to theirs. There is no longer a single person in the community that leads others to truth. It is about community.

The two of us, Samuel and Mead, who are writing this blog, embarked on this study because we were friends. And it is through the study of this book over so many years that our friendship has grown and blossomed. This is what the Word of God does. It brings us together and helps elevate us, both our hearts and our minds.

The next part of the paragraph says "To seek evidence, when the Proof hath been established" is just downright silly. Ok, so we paraphrased a bit there, but you get the point. What does that mean, though? To us it means that once we are convinced of Baha'u'llah's station then to seek further proofs is pointless.

We are reminded of the story of Haji Muhammad-Tahir-i-Malmiri. He was in the presence of Baha'u'llah when he thought about a particular verse from the Qur'an. He said to himself, "If Baha'u'llah really is who he says he is, then let him cite this verse." As soon as he thought that, Baha'u'llah quoted that verse.

Haji Muhammad-Tahir-i-Malmiri was stunned. But then he had another thought. "What if that was just a coincidence?" At which point Baha'u'llah turned to him and said, "Was that not enough?"

When the proof has been given, move on. Accept it, and act on it.

"Lo: the Lamp of God is shining." Baha'u'llah is calling us to recognize, in this book, the Bab. And here He is also hinting at His own station, as He is the one "shining in the land of Iraq", at the time of His writing.

Friday, April 26, 2024

Paragraph 154

Consider, how can he that faileth in the day of God’s Revelation to attain unto the grace of the “Divine Presence” and to recognize His Manifestation, be justly called learned, though he may have spent aeons in the pursuit of knowledge, and acquired all the limited and material learning of men? It is surely evident that he can in no wise be regarded as possessed of true knowledge. Whereas, the most unlettered of all men, if he be honored with this supreme distinction, he verily is accounted as one of those divinely learned men whose knowledge is of God; for such a man hath attained the acme of knowledge, and hath reached the furthermost summit of learning.


"Consider". How often has Baha'u'llah asked us to consider, reflect, ponder, or meditate? It always seems to be, as we noted numerous times earlier in our study, just after He has given us a difficult piece of information to grasp.

Here, He has just talked for a number of paragraphs about the concept of "attaining the presence of God", and how people have understood or misunderstood it. He has said that understanding it as a universal revelation misses the point that this has happened in every Revelation. But if we understand it as attaining the very essence of divinity, this is obviously impossible. Instead, He says that what it really means is attaining the presence of the Manifestation of God. This is as close as we can get to attaining the presence of God. This is a new concept of how to understand that phrase, and He is asking us to really think about it.

In the previous paragraph, Baha'u'llah referred to the Manifestation as the "essence of all learning" and the "one Object of their quest". In a sense, this begs the question, what is the purpose of learning? What is the ultimate goal of education? And how does the Manifestation fit into this?

It also gets us to ask ourselves what is the difference between knowledge and learning? We tend to think of knowledge as the accumulation of facts, whereas learning is more about their application.

The purpose of having a pen is to be able to write with it. The purpose of studying music is to be able to play a beautiful piece. The purpose of studying religion is to recognize God's messenger and live a good life. If we fail in this, then we have not truly understood, or learned, what we needed to in our studies of religion. We may be able to quote all sorts of verses and traditions, but are we able to apply them? That is the real test.

In another sense, the purpose of education is the attainment of truth. Truth, of course, is that which conforms to reality. But what good is it if we cannot apply it?

In addition to this, truth is objective. It has nothing to do with us. Being honest is saying what we believe. But truth is that which is real, whether or not we accept it.

Again, He reminds us that the message of the Manifestation, not to mention the Manifestation Himself, is as close we can get to God, the ultimate truth of all. Therefore, if our education does not lead us to the Manifestation, if it becomes a barrier between us and God, then we have failed in the ultimate objective of all learning.

The very phrases "acme of knowledge" and "furthermost summit of learning" speak to this purpose.

But going back to the application of knowledge, we are reminded of the famous formula e=mc2. Knowing this formula is nothing more than trivia. Knowing how to apply it, though, has given us such technological wonders like nuclear power plants and the GPS system. Without the application, it would be nothing more than a mathematical curiosity.

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Paragraph 153

 Strive, therefore, O my brother, to grasp the meaning of “Resurrection,” and cleanse thine ears from the idle sayings of these rejected people. Shouldst thou step into the realm of complete detachment, thou wilt readily testify that no day is mightier than this Day, and that no resurrection more awful than this Resurrection can ever be conceived. One righteous work performed in this Day, equaleth all the virtuous acts which for myriads of centuries men have practiced—nay, We ask forgiveness of God for such a comparison! For verily the reward which such a deed deserveth is immensely beyond and above the estimate of men. Inasmuch as these undiscerning and wretched souls have failed to apprehend the true meaning of “Resurrection” and of the “attainment unto the divine Presence,” they therefore have remained utterly deprived of the grace thereof. Although the sole and fundamental purpose of all learning, and the toil and labor thereof, is attainment unto, and the recognition of, this station, yet they are all immersed in the pursuit of their material studies. They deny themselves every moment of leisure, and utterly ignore Him, Who is the Essence of all learning, and the one Object of their quest! Methinks, their lips have never touched the cup of divine Knowledge, nor do they seem to have attained even a dewdrop of the showers of heavenly grace.


Back in paragraph 151, Baha'u'llah said, in the last sentence, "...the Day of Resurrection... is the Day of the rise of God Himself through His all-embracing Revelation." That is it, His definition. When He tells us to "Strive... to grasp the meaning of 'Resurrection'", this is the meaning He is telling us to work hard to understand. And, of course, in paragraph 152 He elaborated on that definition. He reminded us that there is nothing more wonderful and marvelous than to be alive at the time of a Messenger of God.

Now, here in paragraph 153, He goes a bit further. First He reminds to not bother ourselves with the sayings and definitions of those who don't get it. If some bozo says that the Day of Resurrection is something wild, nonsensical and fantastical, who cares? Just ignore them. They're yahoos. Baha'u'llah has given us a good definition. Go with it. Use it. Strive to understand it better. And as we do, we will come to understand more of the world around us.

Later in this paragraph, He helps us make this connection. He says that the "sole and fundamental purpose of all learning... is attainment unto... this station..." Of course, most of the people are only concerned about the material aspect of their studies. They don't concern themselves with the spiritual, but that is only to their detriment.

Imagine a scenario in which some fool goes into a science classroom before the class begins and proceeds to give some silly idea of the nature of light or evolution. Can you imagine a question on the final exam about what they said? Of course not. When the class begins, though, you will ask the person to move aside so that the true teacher can now begin their class. And then you will quiz the students on what they said, not on the silly ideas that were presented earlier.

In this scenario, the good science teacher would not only explain the principles and laws involved, but would go on and talk about the application of those ideas. They would address the moral issues involved, and talk about the impact on society. It is not only useless to talk about, for example, nuclear energy in terms of how to start a nuclear reaction, it is actually dangerous if you do not address the impacts such a reaction can have on the health of the people. But when you talk about the importance of unity, health, safety, the need for clean energy, and so forth, then the beneficial effects of these laws becomes more apparent.

Now, let's go back to the word "strive". It means to work hard. It means to put great effort into something. Here, it seems to imply that overcoming the previous mis-understandings of what was meant by "resurrection" will require strength of character. We need to build up that inner strength in order to carry the weight of this new definition, which implies serious work on our part later.

And He ends all this with a reference to water, first referred to way back in paragraph 1 with the "ocean of true understanding". Here we are getting a "true understanding" of the meaning of "Resurrection", and it will have implications on our life and actions, which He will address in the rest of the book.

Friday, March 25, 2022

Paragraph 152

This is the meaning of the “Day of Resurrection,” spoken of in all the scriptures, and announced unto all people. Reflect, can a more precious, a mightier, and more glorious day than this be conceived, so that man should willingly forego its grace, and deprive himself of its bounties, which like unto vernal showers are raining from the heaven of mercy upon all mankind? Having thus conclusively demonstrated that no day is greater than this Day, and no revelation more glorious than this Revelation, and having set forth all these weighty and infallible proofs which no understanding mind can question, and no man of learning overlook, how can man possibly, through the idle contention of the people of doubt and fancy, deprive himself of such a bountiful grace? Have they not heard the well-known tradition: “When the Qá’im riseth, that day is the Day of Resurrection”? In like manner, the Imáms, those unquenchable lights of divine guidance, have interpreted the verse: “What can such expect but that God should come down to them overshadowed with clouds,”109—a sign which they have unquestionably regarded as one of the features of the Day of Resurrection—as referring to the Qá’im and His manifestation.


"This is the meaning..." What is the meaning to which He is referring? To get the answer, we need to look at the last couple of sentences in the previous paragraph.

To put this into context first, though, let us remember where He is in His argument. The uncle of Bab had asked about the sovereignty of the Bab, claiming that He was a merchant, a prisoner, and even executed. How, he wondered, did this demonstrate sovereignty?

Previously, we had understood these various statements about the promised Qa'im to refer to some Messenger who would appear in the future. Baha'u'llah turns this around on us and shows us that they refer to all the Messengers. If we claim that the Bab was a merchant and could not have been a divine Messenger, well, so was Muhammad. If we say He was executed and therefore could not be the Promised One, Jesus was also executed. Any claim we make against the Bab for not showing the sovereignty of God in the way we expect can be turned around to try and deny another Messenger we already recognize.

Conversely, any statements we read about the wonder and awe of the promised Day to come can also be applied to the Day of any Messenger we already recognize.

Over and over Baha'u'llah continually draws us back to this concept of singularity and unity. To recognize one of the Messengers is to recognize them all. To deny one is to deny them all.

These glorious statements about the "Presence of God" at the time of the Resurrection refer to the time of any and all of the other Messengers, too. "...(W)hosoever, and in whatever Dispensation, hath recognized and attained unto the presence of these glorious, these resplendent and most excellent Luminaries, hath verily attained unto the 'Presence of God'..."

"Reflect" He says, "can a more precious, a mightier, a more glorious day than this be conceived..?" Remember from way back at the beginning of Part 1? Whenever He tells us to consider, meditate or reflect, it is always because He has introduced a new concept that we may naturally resist. The same holds true here. He is giving us a new understanding of a concept we thought we understood. And now, in the middle of this paragraph, He is asking us to consider it before outright denying it.

"(N)o day is greater than this Day, and no revelation more glorious that this Revelation..." That Day which is so precious is not just the time of the Bab, nor only the time of Baha'u'llah, but rather that Day in which any Messenger of God is walking the earth.

Of course, this leads us to very important question, which is at the heart of all that Baha'u'llah is addressing here. Are we living at such a time?

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Paragraph 151

And were they to say that by “divine Presence” is meant the “Secondary Revelation of God,” interpreted as the “Holy Outpouring,” this is admittedly applicable to the world of creation, that is, in the realm of the primal and original manifestation of God. Such revelation is confined to His Prophets and chosen Ones, inasmuch as none mightier than they hath come to exist in the world of being. This truth all recognize, and bear witness thereto. These Prophets and chosen Ones of God are the recipients and revealers of all the unchangeable attributes and names of God. They are the mirrors that truly and faithfully reflect the light of God. Whatsoever is applicable to them is in reality applicable to God, Himself, Who is both the Visible and the Invisible. The knowledge of Him, Who is the Origin of all things, and attainment unto Him, are impossible save through knowledge of, and attainment unto, these luminous Beings who proceed from the Sun of Truth. By attaining, therefore, to the presence of these holy Luminaries, the “Presence of God” Himself is attained. From their knowledge, the knowledge of God is revealed, and from the light of their countenance, the splendour of the Face of God is made manifest. Through the manifold attributes of these Essences of Detachment, Who are both the first and the last, the seen and the hidden, it is made evident that He Who is the Sun of Truth is “the First and the Last, the Seen, and the Hidden.” Likewise the other lofty names and exalted attributes of God. Therefore, whosoever, and in whatever Dispensation, hath recognized and attained unto the presence of these glorious, these resplendent and most excellent Luminaries, hath verily attained unto the “Presence of God” Himself, and entered the city of eternal and immortal life. Attainment unto such presence is possible only in the Day of Resurrection, which is the Day of the rise of God Himself through His all-embracing Revelation.


This is the third of three definitions looking at the meaning of "attainment unto the divine Presence".

To recap, the first definition was attaining to the Revelation. But, as He points out, this is always possible, not just in the time of the Manifestation. So, in a sense, it's too broad a definition. The second definition was attaining to the very essence of God Himself. But, as Baha'u'llah points out, this is impossible, even for the Manifestations. So, in a sense, it's too narrow a definition.

Now He offers the understanding that it means attaining the presence of the Manifestation Himself. This is the Goldilocks definition. It is just right. Whatever we see in the Manifestation can be regarded as being of God, too. In essence, He helps turn our vision away from the idea of God, Himself, and towards the concept of recognizing God through the Manifestation.

In this paragraph, Baha'u'llah offers us one of the most concise concepts of a Manifestation we have ever read. He likens them to "mirrors that truly and faithfully reflect the light of God". Now, to be fair, this idea has been there throughout history, but has been easily misunderstood. The mirror is so bright, and so beautiful, that it has been seen to be the sun it is reflecting. We have confused the Manifestation for God Himself. The mirror is not the sun, but a perfect representation of the sun, just as the Manifestation is not God, but the perfect representation of God.

There is an interesting thing about mirrors, though. One is the way in which they reflect the light, how faithfully and accurately you can see what is being reflected. The other is how much light they actually reflect. What we mean by this is, in the first instance, how clear the image is. If the mirror is warped, or has bubbles, then the image will not be accurate. It will be distorted.

On the other hand, the material which makes up the mirror will also determine its ability to reflect. One substance may only reflect 10% of the light, while another might reflect 50%, or more.

We were really made aware of this one day at the Grand Canyon. We were standing at the edge looking over these magnificent rock formations, all the strata and colours. It was truly incredible. But then we noticed a large slab of obsidian next to us. It was highly polished, like a mirror. And when you looked at the rocks reflected in the obsidian mirror, you could actually see more detail than if you looked at the rocks directly. By reflecting only a small percentage of the light, more details were made apparent.

Perhaps the Manifestation is like this. God is so awesome, as in awe-inspiring, and overwhelming, that we require the reflection of His light in the Manifestation to even be able to see a glimmer of the details.

We are also reminded of paragraph 1, once again. Way back at the beginning, we were told that nobody could ever "attain the shores of the Ocean of true understanding except he be detached" from everything. Here, Baha'u'llah refers to the Manifestations as those "Essences of Detachment".

It is also worth noting that the quote He cites, from Qur'an 57, is taken from a discourse on the order of creation. This is noteworthy because this little section about attaining the divine Presence is following His own explanation of the hierarchy of creation. He went from all things reflecting an attribute of God to humanity reflecting all the attributes. He then reminded us that of all people on the planet it is the Manifestations that reflect these attributes to the highest degree. At the same time, this quote also reminds us that all the Manifestations have an underlying essence of oneness about them. They are all "the First and the Last, the Seen and the Hidden". At every turn He draws our attention to the Manifestations and continually shows us how they are all, essentially, the same spirit. In essence, He is really addressing the idea of the Manifestations, their Names and attributes, and showing their relation to God, as intermediaries between God and the world of Creation.

For us today, we can see this as a reminder to look at how people define their terms and help them understand the implications of their definitions, just as He does in these paragraphs. Baha'u'llah showed us how different people understood the phrase "attaining the divine Presence" and then spoke briefly about the implications of each understanding. One was too broad. One was too narrow. One was just right.

Similar to this, we can look at the idea prayer as another example. Some people feel that prayer is only defined as one particular style, such as the Lord's Prayer, which is, of course, too narrow. Others feel that it has no effect, which is also not accurate, for many respond to prayer and are affected by it. But 'Abdu'l-Baha's definition of prayer as "conversation with God" is just right. It allows for the many styles, as well as the different effects it has on people.

One of the greatest gifts we have in the Baha'i Faith is the gift of being able to translate these various ideas through the understanding that Baha'u'llah has shared with us.

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Paragraph 150

And were they to maintain that by “divine Presence” is meant the “Specific Revelation of God,” expressed by certain Ṣúfís as the “Most Holy Outpouring,” if this be in the Essence Itself, it is evident that it hath been eternally in the divine Knowledge. Assuming the truth of this hypothesis, “attainment unto the divine Presence” is in this sense obviously possible to no one, inasmuch as this revelation is confined to the innermost Essence, unto which no man can attain. “The way is barred, and all seeking rejected.” The minds of the favorites of heaven, however high they soar, can never attain this station, how much less the understanding of obscured and limited minds.
This is the second of three definitions He offers around the phrase, "attaining unto the divine Presence" in the Day of Resurrection. The first definition, offered in paragraph 149, was attaining to the Revelation of God. He says that it cannot refer to this as this has happened in every Dispensation. All the Messengers have brought their message, their Revelation. So, in a sense, it is too broad a definition.

Here, in this paragraph, He says that some think of it as referring to seeing "the innermost Essence" of God. This, He says, is impossible. Nobody can ever do that, not even the Manifestations.

In Prayers and Meditations, number LXXV, He says, "Whoso claimeth to have known Thee hath, by virtue of such a claim, testified to his own ignorance; and whoso believeth himself to have attained unto Thee all the atoms of the earth would attest his powerlessness and proclaim his failure."

He seems to say that if we believe that we can attain the actual presence of God, and approach His innermost essence, we are sorely mistaken. It's not that we, or the Manifestations, are any lesser or lower for this inability, but rather that God is just that much greater than we ever imagined. Here, as elsewhere, Baha'u'llah is raising our vision, giving us a grander view of reality.

It all hearkens back to paragraph 104, and His explanation of God. He explained to us that God is "immensely exalted beyond" anything we can conceive, and this, our inability to attain His innermost Essence, is a natural implication of this new understanding of God's station.

 Two questions, though, stand out for us. First, why is it "the minds" at the end of this paragraph, and not the hearts or the souls? Second, who are the "favorites of heaven"?

In regards to the first, we can find the beginning of an answer in the Arabic Hidden Words, number 66:

"O Children of the Divine and Invisible Essence! Ye shall be hindered from loving Me and souls shall be perturbed as they make mention of Me. For minds cannot grasp Me nor hearts contain Me."

As we get closer to God, we come to understand God more and more. Here, He points out that we can never get so close to God as to understand His inner Essence. And in fact, we can never get close enough to another individual to understand their inner essence either. Why would we presume to be able to get close enough to God to do the same? To presume we can is the pinnacle of egotism, which merely leads us further away.

As for who is a "favorite of heaven", the only other time we see this phrase in the Writings is earlier in this book, in paragraph 89. It is used in relation to showing the fallacy of those who use "specious discourses" to try and disprove the Manifestation. He points to a quote in which it is said, "Our Cause is sorely trying, highly perplexing; none can bear it except he be a favorite of heaven, or an inspired Prophet, or he whose faith god hath tested."

So, who would be a favorite of heaven? That's a great question. We'll leave it as one of the mysteries of the faith. Besides, our minds are quite limited and obscured, so who are we to say.