Friday, January 17, 2014

Paragraph 53

Know verily that the purpose underlying all these symbolic terms and abstruse allusions, which emanate from the Revealers of God's holy Cause, hath been to test and prove the peoples of the world; that thereby the earth of the pure and illuminated hearts may be known from the perishable and barren soil. From time immemorial such hath been the way of God amidst His creatures, and to this testify the records of the sacred books.

And we're back to tests. Remember those tests? Way back in paragraph 8? He said, "the Almighty hath tried, and will continue to try, His servants, so that light may be distinguished from darkness, truth from falsehood, right from wrong, guidance from error, happiness from misery, and roses from thorns." In fact, in the whole section of paragraphs about the various Messengers, He brings up the whole issue of tests again and again.

When looking at these quotes, and the understanding of the symbolic terms, Baha'u'llah seems to be telling us that there isn't a right or a wrong interpretation of these terms. "Manifold are the meanings." What is important is the nature of our understanding of these terms. Does our understanding lead us to become egotistical, thinking that we are right and everyone else is wrong? Or does our understanding lead us to consult with others and better develop our community? Does it make us more divisive or more inclusive?

Baha'u'llah is looking at the condition of our heart, for the condition of our soul, not for the depth of our knowledge. If the heart is good and pure then the seeds He plants within it will take root and grow. If the heart is barren, then no seeds will ever grow there.

When we go to school, we are expected to take a test at the end of a course to see if we understood what was taught. The purpose of school, however, is not to help us pass the test. It is to help us learn, and the test is merely an indicator.

The tests here prove the worth of the soul, determine its quality. And this has always been the way of God. At the very end of this paragraph Baha'u'llah reminds us that we will find such things in our own sacred books, no matter which religion we follow. Again, having us go back to our own tradition and book is pivotal in our understanding of His point. He references these at least a few hundred times in the course of this text, continually reminding us to go back and study them.

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