Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Paragraph 27

This servant will now share with thee a dewdrop out of the fathomless ocean of the truths treasured in these holy words, that haply discerning hearts may comprehend all the allusions and the implications of the utterances of the Manifestations of Holiness, so that the overpowering majesty of the Word of God may not prevent them from attaining unto the ocean of His names and attributes, nor deprive them of recognizing the Lamp of God which is the seat of the revelation of His glorified Essence.

Here is the last of three paragraphs of introduction to Matthew 24.

Baha'u'llah immediately identifies Himself as a servant thus positioning Himself in a humble state of mind. He sets the example of how we should teach by using Himself as an example.

He reminds us that these holy words are truly fathomless. There is always more and more that we can discover within them. "And if all the trees in the earth", it says in the Qur'an, "were pens, and the sea, with seven more seas to help it, (were ink), the words of Allah could not be exhausted."

He also reminds us that understanding them is not a foregone conclusion. It is only with luck, or by the Will of God ("haply", remember), that we will come to a deeper understanding. Over and over again throughout this Book, He reminds us that it is always by the grace of God that we understand. Our job, as He says so well in the first few paragraphs, is to purify our heart, to sanctify our soul, and then we can begin to approach His threshold. It is important to note that it is our heart that does the comprehending, not our mind. This is so contrary to our modern "scientific" understanding in which everything can be understood from a logical and straightforward literal reading. Here we are learning about the sacred, an effort which defies the literal and straightforward and causes us to face the incomprehensible. This is a challenge for us; it involves a little spiritual labour, as well as humility.

Here, once again, He likens the sacred texts to an ocean, which can be overwhelming. This is like information overload. When a submarine goes under the water in the ocean to explore, they are only able to see a few feet in front of them. It is only by making thousands and thousands of dives, all over the ocean, and combining what we know from each one's experience that we can begin to get a bit of an understanding of the what is contained within the depths of the ocean. This is further multiplied when we consider the Holy Words.

He also points out something very interesting here, namely that this can be overpowering and can even become a barrier for some. Imagine if someone discovered a profound truth latent within a sacred verse. Now imagine someone else has discovered another very profound truth within the same verse. Can you not see how they could come to odds with each other over which interpretation, or understanding, is "correct"? It is often very difficult to recognize that both may be "correct", for there are many truths that are contained within each verse.

Even here, with all that Baha'u'llah shares about this single verse from Matthew 24, He doesn't claim that He is telling us everything that is contained within it. In fact, He is expressly telling us that there is more, far more, contained there. Although He is hoping that we will be able to "comprehend all the allusions and the implications", He is only sharing a dewdrop with us.

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