Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Paragraph 73

From all that We have stated it hath become clear and manifest that before the revelation of each of the Mirrors reflecting the divine Essence, the signs heralding their advent must needs be revealed in the visible heaven as well as in the invisible, wherein is the seat of the sun of knowledge, of the moon of wisdom, and of the stars of understanding and utterance. The sign of the invisible heaven must needs be revealed in the person of that perfect man who, before each Manifestation appeareth, educateth, and prepareth the souls of men for the advent of the divine Luminary, the Light of the unity of God amongst men.

Remember how we said that part 1 can be divided into a series of sections revolving around that prophecy from Matthew 24? Well, this paragraph is the last one that focuses on the phrase "And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven."

The "sign", as Baha'u'llah points out here, is two-fold: a sign in the heaven above us, otherwise known as the sky, and a sign through a harbinger, that "perfect man". It is worth pointing out that this station, that of the harbinger, is quite different from those who come after the Manifestation. He is not in the same position as an apostle, or a disciple, or even a saint. For one thing, he has to recognize the signs of the Messenger before they even appear on earth.

But what does this have to do with us? If we look at this book as a blueprint for how to "become competent and useful teachers" of the Cause, then perhaps there is a clue to that here.

Baha'u'llah is not only summarizing this section on the signs in heaven, He is tying it to a previous section, in which He explained the phrase "the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven". He is not only helping us move forward, He is also ensuring that we make the connection to previous ideas and see this prophecy from Jesus as a united whole. It is but another aspect of that unity that Baha'u'llah will infuse into His whole Dispensation. He is talking about the unity of the Prophets, and He helps us see the unity of Their signs, and ensures that we see the over-arching unity of this statement from Jesus. He makes sure that we don't take any line, or any idea, out of context. It is all about the unity and coherency of both Their message and Their selves.

This section on the harbingers also brings to mind the question of some people about their own faith. Some Christians, as but one example, don't recognize that other Messengers had Their own harbinger, or Their own star signaling Their coming. They believe that only Jesus had a John the Baptist and a star signaling the Magi. They refuse to accept the parallel signs in other faiths.

It reminds us of a story from the early 80s, Some US auto executives were going to Japan to try and understand how the Japanese automakers were outperforming their US counterparts. They went over there and were given a tour of at least one factory. Upon their return to the US, one of the Detroit executives said that the whole thing was staged. "They didn't show us", he complained, "a real factory." He said that he had been in the auto manufacturing business his whole life, had seen plenty of assembly line facilities, and knew that the ones he saw in Japan were not real. When asked how he knew this, he said that there weren't any inventories. He said that it was impossible to have an assembly line without a standing inventory on hand.

He was shown the truth and was unable to accept it because it didn't fit with his pre-conceived idea of how things had to be.

This, of course, brings us right back to the very first paragraph. "No man shall attain the shores of the ocean of true understanding except he be detached from all that is in heaven and on earth." If we do not sanctify our soul, and detach ourselves from our previous ideas, allowing ourselves to at least consider new ideas, then we will not see the truth even if it right in front of us.

It also reminds us of another quote from Baha'u'llah: "Consort with all men, O people of Baha, in a spirit of friendliness and fellowship. If ye be aware of a certain truth, if ye possess a jewel, of which others are deprived, share it with them in a language of utmost kindliness and good-will. If it be accepted, if it fulfil its purpose, your object is attained. If any one should refuse it, leave him unto himself, and beseech God to guide him. Beware lest ye deal unkindly with him. A kindly tongue is the lodestone of the hearts of men. It is the bread of the spirit, it clotheth the words with meaning, it is the fountain of the light of wisdom and understanding...."

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