Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Paragraph 49

Would that the hearts of men could be cleansed from these man-made limitations and obscure thoughts imposed upon them! haply they may be illumined by the light of the Sun of true knowledge, and comprehend the mysteries of divine wisdom. Consider now, were the parched and barren soil of these hearts to remain unchanged, how could they ever become the Recipients of the revelation of the mysteries of God, and the Revealers of the divine Essence? Thus hath He said: "On the day when the earth shall be changed into another earth." (1 Qur'án 14:48)

This is the second of three paragraphs that focus on the "changing of the earth", and these fall under the examination of the clause from Matthew 24, "and the powers of the earth shall be shaken".

He begins this particular train of thought in the previous paragraph, talking about how the hearts of men have to change, or else they won't give their flowers and fruit. And for those whose hearts haven't changed, well, they're bozos. They pride themselves on their limited knowledge, and even steal silly ideas from each other. Now, in this paragraph, He laments, "Oh, that their hearts would be changed." If so, then they might receive divine bounties. This, He says, is the meaning behind the phrase, "the earth shall be changed into another earth". If it wouldn't happen, then we'd still be bozos. Oh, and to foreshadow a moment, He also points out in the very next paragraph that even the physical earth has changed.

But looking back at this paragraph a bit closer, there are a few things that stand out for us.

First, we noticed a beautiful pattern of nature that Baha'u'llah has given us here. It all begins in the previous paragraph with the earth of the heart, and His description of how they can give flowers. Here, in this paragraph, He says that the hearts are parched, or lacking in water. Then come the rains, the rain of divine bounty. This watering literally changes the heart, just as the rain transforms the dry dirt into a rich soil in which the seeds can germinate. Then, following the rain, comes the sun. it is this light which further transforms the seeds, allowing them to grow and develop, eventually reaching fruition.

The second thing that stood out for us is the phrase "man-made limitations". It is interesting that these limitations are not imposed upon us, but the result of our own choice.

Of course, we also noticed the use of the words "haply" and "consider", which bring us right back to the very beginning of the book. Time and again He reminds us that there is always an element of luck, and that we really, really, need to reflect on all that is before us.

The last point is a bit of a tangent.That final quote reminded us of Revelation 21:1, in which we read, "And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea." Obviously this talks about the same thing, a transformation of the earth, presumably referring to the earth of men's hearts. But that last phrase in Revelation made us pause. "There was no more sea"? What does that mean? Well, the sea is much smaller than the ocean, so it may refer to the great breadth and scope of Baha'u'llah's revelation, especially in comparison to the other revelations.

Also, when describing the changing of the earth, in a literal sense, this is often due to an earthquake, or some other major catastrophe. We can, for example, easily imagine a major quake shifting the land around so that an inland sea now drains into the ocean. Just a thought.

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