Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Paragraph 146

Thus with steadfast steps we may tread the Path of certitude, that perchance the breeze that bloweth from the meads of the good-pleasure of God may waft upon us the sweet savours of divine acceptance, and cause us, vanishing mortals that we are, to attain unto the Kingdom of everlasting glory. Then wilt thou comprehend the inner meaning of sovereignty and the like, spoken of in the traditions and scriptures. Furthermore, it is already evident and known unto thee that those things to which the Jews and the Christians have clung, and the cavilings which they heaped upon the Beauty of Muhammad, the same have in this day been upheld by the people of the Qur’án, and been witnessed in their denunciations of the “Point of the Bayán”—may the souls of all that dwell within the kingdom of divine Revelations be a sacrifice unto Him! Behold their folly: they utter the self-same words, uttered by the Jews of old, and know it not! How well and true are His words concerning them: “Leave them to entertain themselves with their cavilings!” “As Thou livest, O Muhammad! they are seized by the frenzy of their vain fancies.”

At this point, it feels as if Baha'u'llah is moving on to another section in the Book. He seems to have finished His discourse on the nature of true sovereignty and is now moving on to talk more about the various arguments that the people have against the new Faith, the "cavilings", as He says, or petty arguments. Over the next number of paragraphs He will focus on various of these arguments, showing how they are the same arguments that were used against Muhammad.

It is interesting to us how He moves from these previous paragraphs about sovereignty to this new idea of these petty arguments. It seems to us that He's not actually answering any direct questions that the uncle has asked, but instead is building up the foundation of his belief so that the questions he asked are no longer relevant.

To do this, we noted that He ended the previous paragraph with the references to our feet and our heart. Here He opens this new section with a further reference to the "steps we may tread", placing those very steps in the middle of a pleasant meadow, with a gentle breeze blowing across us. We want to keep walking there. We want to follow His argument. We want to see where He is going.

Baha'u'llah is doing all He can to keep us with Him, ensuring with such gentleness that we don't get lost.

As we have mentioned previously, all those passages about true sovereignty are alluded to in the very beginning of Part 2, paragraph 102, when He talks about the Messenger having "undisputed sovereignty". Now He seems to be carrying us to the end of that same paragraph, where He says "that haply thou mayest soar on the wings of renunciation to those heights that are veiled from the eyes of men."

Part 1, you may recall, centred around the theme of detachment. Now we are moving into the realm of renunciation, the formal rejection of a previously held belief. For us to continue on this path, we, or the uncle particularly, will have to renounce some of the concepts we previously held. And that, we feel, is why He began with such a lengthy discourse adjusting our understanding of true sovereignty.

In this paragraph, Baha'u'llah does another very interesting thing in preparation for the next series of paragraphs. he reminds the uncle, and the reader, of the very arguments that are mentioned in the Qur'an that were perpetrated against Muhammad. These are the same arguments that He will later point out as being the same as those used against the Bab.

The reason that this intrigues us, and we feel is a great example for us as teachers of the Faith, is that He doesn't try to use the Writings of the Bab to press His point. In fact, He doesn't even quote a single word from the Bab. No. All His arguments stem from the Qur'an, a book that the uncle recognizes as sacred Text.

When we are trying to help someone move from their own faith path to recognize Baha'u'llah, we should also, perhaps, do the same. We should show the ardent seeker how their own sacred Book points us to the Twin Messengers. From there, they will be in a far better position to begin to recognize that divine Voice calling from the wilderness.

At the end of this paragraph, Baha'u'llah quotes that wonderful line form the Qur'an, "Leave them to entertain themselves with their cavilings!" For us, this is a reminder that we are truly free to walk away when we encounter those souls who have no further interest than mere arguing. We should feel comfortable leaving them to themselves. After all, there are plenty of people out there who are very interested in truly investigating the world around them, and sincere in their questions. This is a just a good reminder here that Baha'u'llah gave us that not everyone we encounter will be sincere in their questions.

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By the way, Mead here. Before we conclude for this paragraph, I just want to say congratulations to my dear friend, Samuel, my co-writer here. He and his wife just had their first baby a couple of weeks ago. As we talked on the phone about this paragraph, we could hear her murmuring in the background. It was such a beautiful sound by which to study the Word of God.

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