Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Paragraph 81

It is evident that the changes brought about in every Dispensation constitute the dark clouds that intervene between the eye of man's understanding and the divine Luminary which shineth forth from the dayspring of the divine Essence. Consider how men for generations have been blindly imitating their fathers, and have been trained according to such ways and manners as have been laid down by the dictates of their Faith. Were these men, therefore, to discover suddenly that a Man, Who hath been living in their midst, Who, with respect to every human limitation, hath been their equal, had risen to abolish every established principle imposed by their Faith -- principles by which for centuries they have been disciplined, and every opposer and denier of which they have come to regard as infidel, profligate and wicked, -- they would of a certainty be veiled and hindered from acknowledging His truth. Such things are as "clouds" that veil the eyes of those whose inner being hath not tasted the Salsabil of detachment, nor drunk from the Kawthar of the knowledge of God. Such men, when acquainted with these circumstances, become so veiled that without the least question, they pronounce the Manifestation of God an infidel, and sentence Him to death. You must have heard of such things taking place all down the ages, and are now observing them in these days.

Here is the eighth of those twelve paragraphs that look at the phrase "And then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory."

In the previous paragraphs, He refers to the various clouds that block our vision of the Manifestations. He mentions such things as the fact that the Messengers had to eat and sleep. These are similar, in sense, to the nice fluffy clouds that occasionally block the sun, such as the cirrus clouds.

Here He is referring to "the dark clouds", those clouds that are the harbinger of serious storms. These are the clouds that send us scampering for cover, the ominous nimbostratus clouds.

But what are they? Well, Baha'u'llah tells us that they are those traditions by which we judge whether someone is a good person or not. They are those old traditions that we know of, but do not necessarily why they exist.

Our favorite example is that of turning to Jerusalem when praying. For centuries people were told that if they wanted to pray in the right way, they were to face Jerusalem, that if they were good people they would face Jerusalem. They were told that all good people faced that way when praying. But in many cases they were not told why. They were never told that God is everywhere and so it doesn't really matter where you face, but that you faced Jerusalem in honour and remembrance of the Temple there.

When Muhammad came along, He, too, turned to Jerusalem during His prayers. But them , one day, after a falling out with some Jewish people, He suddenly turned away from Jerusalem and began to face Mecca.

Naturally, some people saw this and understood that "He doeth as He willeth", but others saw it as an indication that He was not a good person. The former became staunch Muslims while the latter fell away as infidels, confirming the statement, "Think because you say you believe, you will not be tested".

Another example of this is Jesus in the New Testament when He healed someone on the Sabbath. He understood, and even explained, that the Sabbath was created for man's benefit, and that there were times when you had to do some work on that day because otherwise it would be too late.

We, too, within the Baha'i community, can also be aware of this dynamic. For example, we face Bhaji when saying our obligatory prayer, and some choose to face it when reading the Tablet of Visitation during the commemoration of the ascension of Baha'u'llah. The latter, of course, is optional, but some of the friends occasionally try to impose it upon others. Either way, we can be aware of the importance of explaining why we face Bhaji, and not allowing it to become an empty ritual devoid of meaning.

So, how can we avoid falling in to this trap? Simple: detachment.

Baha'u'llah also gives us a taste of the effects this, this blindness causing harm in others, when He refers to the three levels of immorality. The first is the infidel, who is merely a person who doesn't believe. The second is the one who is profligate, who indulges themselves in immoral or extreme pleasure. The third, though, is the one who is wicked, who intentionally seeks to harm another.

Finally, Baha'u'llah makes mention of two interesting things at the very end: the Salsabil of detachment and the Kawthar of the knowledge of God.

Salsabil literally means "soft flowing" and is one of the fountains found in Paradise, according to Islamic tradition. Kawthar is a river in Paradise, from which all the other rivers flow. Part of its waters flow into a lake on whose shores the faithful are said to rest after having crossed the bridge that takes them over the fires of Hell.

We find these two analogies beautiful because He seems to be implying that when we apply our sense of detachment, the very essence of this first part of the Kitab-i-Iqan, we are in the heart of Paradise.

And when we apply the knowledge of God, then we can see the traps that are all there before us, avoid them, and find our rest and comfort on the shores of that lake in paradise.

Of course, we also need to remember that "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."

No comments:

Post a Comment