Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Paragraph 18

In unfolding these mysteries, We have, in Our former Tablets which were addressed to a friend in the melodious language of Hijaz, cited a few of the verses revealed unto the Prophets of old. And now, responding to your request, We again shall cite, in these pages, those same verses, uttered this time in the wondrous accents of Iraq, that haply the sore athirst in the wilds of remoteness may attain unto the ocean of the divine presence, and they that languish in the wastes of separation be led unto the home of eternal reunion. Thus the mists of error may be dispelled, and the all-resplendent light of divine guidance dawn forth above the horizon of human hearts. In God We put Our trust, and to Him We cry for help, that haply there may flow from this pen that which shall quicken the souls of men, that they may all arise from their beds of heedlessness and hearken unto the rustling of the leaves of Paradise, from the tree which the hand of divine power hath, by the permission of God, planted in the Ridvan of the All-Glorious.

This is a transitional paragraph, leading us into the whole idea of the Eternal Covenant.

He begins, as you can tell, by referring to Gems of Divine Mysteries, and what He wrote there. That book, in our own opinon, is sort of like a spiritual cross between The Seven Valleys and this Book. Here, in the Iqan, He has taken some of the themes he introduced in Gems and expounds further upon them here.

But there seems to be another aspect to this, too. He is taking what was revealed in Gems in Arabic and is now reiterating them here in Persian. Why do you think this would be?

We feel that this is a reminder of the importance of our mother tongue. When we hear the Words of God in our mother tongue, it seems to touch our heart even deeper than if we hear it in a language we learned later in life, or one that we don't even speak. Perhaps Baha'u'llah is offering a model of behaviour for us. We need to be ever-mindful of the importance of touching people's hearts in any we can.

It also seems as if, up to this point, one could argue that every Messenger came for a particular people. But here, Baha'u'llah is far more inclusive. He doesn't just reveal the verses in a single language, but goes out of His way to include many tongues.

As we were talking about this, it reminded us of how each language offers a different perspective on the world, in a similar way that different musical instruments can offer a different perspective on a piece of music. If you have ever heard a full symphonic version of "Ode to Joy", and then heard someone play it on the guitar, you will know what we mean. While it is not necessarily the case that one version is better, they are still very different and each offer something new to the listener. And then, if you are familiar with Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody, you will really understand what we mean when you hear it played on the ukelele. Wow. Talk about a different perspective that is still quite wonderful. (Oh, and we linked both of those references to videos, just in case you're interested.)

In this paragraph, Baha'u'llah, once again, gives us some marvellous imagery to really sink our spiritual teeth into (hmm, that seems too violent a metaphor, but you know what we mean).

In the first couplet, "the wilds of remoteness" and "the ocean of divine presence", we are reminded of the very first paragraph. But you knew we were going to mention that, didn't you? It seems that we now have a bit of an image of where we were before we actually got down to "the shores of the ocean of true understanding". Before we got to those marvelous shores, we were in the wilds of remoteness.

He also gives us this image of moving from the "wastes of separation" to the "home of eternal reunion". This is so comforting. We all can relate to the idea of being lost in a dessert, distant from that we which we love. And here, Baha'u'llah is warmly welcoming us back home.

In the third, He seems to indicate how this is done. We have been wandering in the "mists of error" and He has shone the "light of divine guidance". We all know how easy it is to get lost when the mists are out, and what a relief it is when we see the light guiding us home again.

This reminds us of the story of Aqa Rida, who was one of Baha'u'llah's companions in His exiles. When they were on their way to Baghdad, Aqa Rida lost his way one night. He had fallen asleep and not woken in time to see where the caravan had gone. Anxious and afraid, he wandered around looking for some sign of His Lord. Suddenly, in the distance, he saw a glowing light and rushed towards it. It was the fire in the brazier of the tea-maker, Aqa Muahmmad-Baqir. It was this light that had led him back to Baha'u'llah.

Like Aqa Rida, we, too, are fast asleep, but we are on our "beds of heedlessness". And, like Aqa Rida, we require other people to show us the light and lead us on our way.

We know that the "mists of error" have arisen from human misunderstandings, and that these mists, like the mists over the ocean, dissipate with the warmth of the morning sun. For us, today, we have the duty to be those human hearts on the horizon who are showing the light to others, and turning their attention to the "rustling of the leaves of Paradise", which grow on the tree "planted in the Ridvan of the All-Glorious". And with this Book, Baha'u'llah is giving us an example of how we can show this light to others, without blinding them.

(You'll note that we even refrained from mentioning that "haply" is mentioned twice in this paragraph. Wasn't that good of us?)

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