Thursday, May 19, 2011

Paragraph 20

Every discerning observer will recognize that in the Dispensation of the Qur'án both the Book and the Cause of Jesus were confirmed. As to the matter of names, Muhammad, Himself, declared: "I am Jesus." He recognized the truth of the signs, prophecies, and words of Jesus, and testified that they were all of God. In this sense, neither the person of Jesus nor His writings hath differed from that of Muhammad and of His holy Book, inasmuch as both have championed the Cause of God, uttered His praise, and revealed His commandments. Thus it is that Jesus, Himself, declared: "I go away and come again unto you." Consider the sun. Were it to say now, "I am the sun of yesterday," it would speak the truth. And should it, bearing the sequence of time in mind, claim to be other than that sun, it still would speak the truth. In like manner, if it be said that all the days are but one and the same, it is correct and true. And if it be said, with respect to their particular names and designations, that they differ, that again is true. For though they are the same, yet one doth recognize in each a separate designation, a specific attribute, a particular character. Conceive accordingly the distinction, variation, and unity characteristic of the various Manifestations of holiness, that thou mayest comprehend the allusions made by the creator of all names and attributes to the mysteries of distinction and unity, and discover the answer to thy question as to why that everlasting Beauty should have, at sundry times, called Himself by different names and titles.

We see this paragraph as being in two parts. In the first part, Baha'u'llah shows by quoting Them, that Muhammad and Jesus are both Messengers of God, and that They both proclaimed God's message. In the second part, beginning with the sentence, "Consider the sun", He then gives us a metaphor by which we can better understand this truth of Their unity.

As we have alluded to earlier, the reader, in this case the uncle of the Bab, recognized that the prophecies of Jesus were fulfilled in Muhammad. Throughout the previous paragraphs in this book, Baha'u'llah has consistently shown us what the Messengers all have in common. Now, for the first time, He is beginning to explain why we see Them as different.

Then He does something even more wonderful: He gives us an analogy of this truth that we can easily understand and share with others. This is the point that will stick with the reader for the rest of the book. Whenever we get a bit confused about where this is all going, we can easily recall this metaphor.

In our teaching work, for this book is supposed to be a guide for how we are to teach, we can remember the importance of giving simple analogies, usually based on nature, that are easy to understand and accept. This is something that the Master continually did. It is interesting to observe, when reading books like Promulgation of Universal Peace, how often 'Abdu'l-Baha would refer to a physical object in the room that His audience could look at. "This flower, so beautiful, fresh, fragrant and delicately scented", or "The incandescent lamps here are many, yet the light is one."

Looking at this metaphor again, there is an interesting aspect of perspective here. If we consider the viewpoint of the sun, the whole concept of days would just be absurd. The rotation of the earth has absolutely no effect whatsoever on the sun. The sun just shines. From the point of view of those of us on the earth, however, there are times when we don't even see the shining of the sun. There are times when its light cannot reach us.

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