Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Paragraph 38

In another sense, by the terms 'sun', 'moon', and 'stars' are meant such laws and teachings as have been established and proclaimed in every Dispensation, such as the laws of prayer and fasting. These have, according to the law of the Qur'án, been regarded, when the beauty of the Prophet Muhammad had passed beyond the veil, as the most fundamental and binding laws of His dispensation. To this testify the texts of the traditions and chronicles, which, on account of their being widely known, need not be referred to here. Nay rather, in every Dispensation the law concerning prayer hath been emphasized and universally enforced. To this testify the recorded traditions ascribed to the lights that have emanated from the Day-star of Truth, the essence of the Prophet Muhammad.

As we have noted, Baha'u'llah just gave us a chance to pause, to breathe, in paragraph 37. Here, in this paragraph, He offers us another interpretation of the terms "sun", "moon", and "stars".

But what were those other meanings? And just how many meanings can there be?

You may recall that He began talking about these terms way back in paragraph 31, in which He also informed us "manifold are the meanings they have intended for these terms".

In that same paragraph, He said that the "sun" refers to the "universal Manifestations of God". In paragraph 33, He said that these three "terms, 'sun', 'moon', and 'stars', primarily signify the Prophets of God, the saints, and their companions". Then, in paragraph 34, He says that they can also refer to "the divines of the former Dispensation". The universal Manifestations, the Prophets, and the divines: Three different definitions, but all have the same primary function. They all are supposed to teach us about the Will of God. You will also, of course, note the decrescendo there. He is going from the greatest to the least, from the universal Manifestations down to the simple priest who lives just up the road.

If we accept one of these definitions, then we are likely to accept them all. If we see how this term can apply to one, then we will intuitively understand how it can apply to all. By showing us how these terms can work on all three levels, He is gently allowing us to grow into understanding that there is not a single "correct" definition. Moving away from our traditional understanding of there being a single correct answer gives us another opportunity to sanctify our soul, as He gently encouraged us way back in that first paragraph. This is yet another way that we can "be detached from all that is heaven and on earth." This may, perhaps, be one of the reasons why He gave us a breather, a rest, in the previous paragraph. We are so used to searching for the singular correct interpretation that it may take a few moments for any knee-jerk reaction we may have to this new understanding to subside. And in His loving patience, He allows us that time.

Now, however, He is taking us a step further. Here He introduces an entirely new concept: these terms can refer not only to those whose job it is to teach us about the things divine, but can also refer to the laws and teachings themselves.

He uses prayer as a singular example, stating that it is a universal law, found in every religion. But He doesn't talk it about it yet. He waits until the next paragraph before going into that.

It is also interesting to note that He refers to prayer as universal, but not fasting. As far as we know, it is not found in every religion, but we could be wrong.

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