Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Paragraph 36

That the term "sun" hath been applied to the leaders of religion is due to their lofty position, their fame, and renown. Such are the universally recognized divines of every age, who speak with authority, and whose fame is securely established. If they be in the likeness of the Sun of Truth, they will surely be accounted as the most exalted of all luminaries; otherwise, they are to be recognized as the focal centres of hellish fire. Even as He saith: "Verily, the sun and the moon are both condemned to the torment of infernal fire." You are no doubt familiar with the interpretation of the term "sun" and "moon" mentioned in this verse; no need therefore to refer unto it. And whosoever is of the element of this "sun" and "moon", that is, followeth the example of these leaders in setting his face towards falsehood and in turning away from the truth he undoubtedly cometh out of infernal gloom and returneth thereunto.

For much of our time we have done simple analyses of what Baha'u'llah has said. We have tried to offer a few insights, and talked a bit about how some of this applies in our life. Here, we are going to take a page from the great Jewish scholar, Rashi, and talk a bit more obliquely about this paragraph. You already know a bit about our style and can obviously see the variations on a theme that Baha'u'llah touches on here, with the "good cop/ bad cop" motif, so we don't need to go there. You already have.

In life, we are all ignited at some point. Something catches our attention and just seems to light us up, whether for good or bad. Some are inspired by helping the poor, such as Mother Teresa, while others are more inspired by greed. Some people find their motivation by the arts, while others dedicate their lives to a branch of science, and still others to the invention of gadgets and gizmos to help humanity.

Regardless of our the object of our inspiration, we are all ignited.

But, as Baha'u'llah says in the Hidden Words, "with fire We test the gold, and with gold We test Our servants." When testing gold in this manner, we are, in effect, burning away the impurities that may have contaminated it. If the gold is pure, you will have nearly the same amount at the end as what you started with. If it is not pure, and is filled with lots of junk, then all the junk will burn away, and you'll only have a small amount of pure gold left.

In this case, we are all ignited, lit up, on fire, if you will. Some of us, if our hearts and intentions are pure, will burn like the sun, giving a lasting and life-giving light for all to see. But if our hearts are corrupt, intent only on our own pleasures, then we will burn like a torch, feeble and easily extinguished, even though, to outward seeming, we are giving a light like the sun. In the end, though, no one is fooled.

This paragraph is a great reminder to look at ourselves. While we can see this as an indictment against others, seeing them for what they are, it can also serve as a reminder for ourselves. We may be giving light to others, but is it because we are shining with a reflection of the Sun of Truth, or is it through our own immolation?

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