April 10, 2012

'Abdu'l-Baha's First Talk in California: “The teachings of Baha’u’llah are …concerned with good conduct, and good conduct is the greatest effulgence of the All Glorious.”

October 3, 1912
Oakland, California
Address delivered at the home of Mrs. Helen S. Goodall
(Dr. Amin Farid, interpreter; Stenographic notes by Miss. Bijou Straun)

I am going to say, "Welcome," to you, instead of your welcoming me. I am most happy to be here with you. I am exceedingly joyous, and I offered thanks to His Holiness Baha’u’llah that the potency of His Word was instrumental in bringing about such a meeting.

In the world many people go from one country to another. Perchance they may go from here to the Orient; perchance some may come from the Orient here; but such journeys are for travel, or commercial purposes, or for some political reason, or the motive may be some scientific achievement or they go on journeys in order to meet friends. All such meetings are accidental; they are concerned with the exigencies of the world of nature.

But I have come from the Orient to the Occident -- this vast distance have I crossed with no commercial purpose in view, nor travel as an object, nor politics as a reason. It has been simply to meet you. Whereas the meeting of others is generally accidental, our meeting is real, essential -- for the hearts are connected and the souls are attracted and the spirits are exhilarated, and such a meeting is real in character, and great are the results therefrom. The results are everlasting.

Consider the bygone times. There occurred a meeting like this one -- that is to say, that meeting emanated from the attractions of the conscience. It was due to the spiritual bond. It was due to the fraternity of heaven. Regard the results which have later become concomitant! What lights have shone therefrom! What a new spirit has been breathed thereby!

Therefore, I beg of God that this meeting of ours may likewise be a spiritual meeting, may be a heavenly meeting, may be a cordial bond, may be of divine susceptibilities, may be a result of the breaths of the Holy Spirit. Thus, may its traces be everlasting, may its results be eternal, may it be an indissoluble bond and an association inseparable. May it be a love which shall be never ending. This is my hope, and you who have turned to the Kingdom of God, and you who are set aglow with the fire of the Love of God, must so earnestly endeavor that this meeting shall give forth eternal results.

And What will bring this about?

This will be brought about by your acting in accordance with the teachings of Baha’u’llah. This is dependent upon your becoming resuscitated by the Divine Spirit. The Revelation of Baha’u’llah is, in relation to the body of the world, as the spirit of man is to his body. In relation to the body of the world (humanity) Divinity is as the light within a lantern. In relation to the soil of the hearts, it is the quickening shower. In relation to the spiritual growth of the trees, it is the vernal breeze; and in relation to the recovery of the diseased body politic, it is a quick acting remedy, because it is the cause of the oneness of the world of humanity. It is love among all mankind. It is a bond which unites all the religions. It is the unity which welds together all the races. It is the connection between all the countries. It is universal peace among the nations. It is universal peace among all the peoples. It is the universal peace which will bring together all nativities. And undoubtedly it is the spirit of the world. It is the light of the world. Likewise, it is an impetus to the promulgation of knowledge, and it is the cause of agreement of religion with science and reason.

All the nations of the world today are subject to certain superstitions which animate them along the line of prejudice, hatred and rancor. These superstitions are the cause of warfare and battle. For blind imitations of religion are ever various and unreal; but the teachings of Baha’u’llah are reality itself, and reality is the fundamental basis of all the divine religions. Hence these teachings are the very cause of uniting all humanity. They are the cause of love among the hearts of men, for they are reality.

The teachings of Baha’u’llah are likewise concerned with good conduct, and good conduct is the greatest effulgence of the All Glorious.

Unless ethics be improved, the world of humanity will be incapable of true advancement. Real advancement is dependent upon the world of humanity becoming a center of divine morals, becoming a place of the effulgences of the Merciful, becoming a mirror reflecting the bestowals of God. Thereby the world of humanity will become the image and likeness of God. Until these virtues reveal themselves in the world of humanity, real progress and advancement will not be possible.

His Holiness Baha’u’llah, addressing all mankind, says: "Ye are all the leaves of one tree and the fruits of one branch." This signifies that the world of humanity is representative of one tree, and all mankind representative of its leaves, its blossoms and its fruits. Therefore, all the inhabitants of the earth have grown through their attachment to this tree and all are reared and nurtured through the shower of divine mercy. It is self-evident that this teaching is the very spirit of this age. It is life giving, because through love it animates the people, and it casts alienation utterly aside. It brings all into friendship and unity.

Among the teachings of Baha'u'llah is one requiring man, under all conditions and circumstances, to be forgiving, to love his enemy and to consider an ill-wisher as a well- wisher. Not that he should consider one as being an enemy and then put up with him, or to simply endure him, or to consider one as inimical and be forbearing toward him. This is declared to be hypocrisy. This love is not real. Nay, rather, you must see your enemies as friends, ill-wishers as well wishers and treat them accordingly.

That is to say, your love and kindness must be real. Your well wishing must be reality, not merely forbearance, for forbearance, if not of the heart, is hypocrisy. The people of Reality will not accept it.

Among the teachings of Baha’u’llah is one on sacrifice. Man must arrive at the point of sacrifice and the station of sacrifice is that of complete severance that is, his possessions, his comforts, even his life must be sacrificed for humanity. Until man arrives at such a station, he is deprived of the effulgences of God and from the bestowals of the Merciful, and from the breaths of the Holy Spirit, which, in this radiant century, have become apparent and resplendent.

And among the teachings of Baha'u'llah is one relative to the fact that God has created man to yield some fruit from his being, or existence, an eternal fruit an everlasting result. If the world of humanity be confined to the short space of material life here, if man should devote his energies to temporary results for the life of this world is short, the blessings of this world are temporary, the verdures of the world of nature are temporary the happiness of the world of nature is temporary this cannot be called fruitage, because it is temporary and hence useless. Nay, rather, man, must be a blessed tree bearing eternal fruits Thus everlasting spirituality may be his.

The real fruit of the human tree is everlasting, and that is the love for God, that is the knowledge of God, that is service to the world of humanity, that is kindness to all mankind, and that is endeavoring and striving for the material and spiritual -- or ideal -- development of the world of man. This is the everlasting fruit. This is the divine effulgence. This is the divine bestowal. This is the everlasting life.

The teachings are lengthy, but I state them briefly, and from these brief statements, which are fundamental, you must learn the full teachings.

Praise be to God! We have assembled here, and the cause of our gathering here is the love of God. Praise be to God! The hearts are kind toward each other and the heavenly radiance is resplendent

I am hopeful that the hearts may be moved, the souls may be attracted, and that all will act in accordance with the teachings of Baha’u’llah. (A talk by ‘Abdu’l-Baha in Oakland, California, at the home of Helen Goodall, October 3, 1912; Star of the West, vol. 4, no. 11, September 27, 1913)