January 25, 2014

‘Abdu’l-Baha’s talks in North America -- it is estimated He gave 351 talks to a total of 86,000 people

'Abdu'l-Bahá Abbás visited North America from April 11 to December 5, 1912. His eight-month sojourn took Him to some 38 localities in 15 states and the province of Quebec, Canada. Because His North American trip followed on an earlier European visit, when `Abdu'l-Bahá arrived in New York He had a developed daily routine.

It appears that He gave approximately 351 talks during His trip (of which 139 were published in The Promulgation of Universal Peace), an average of 1.5 per day. Extrapolation from known attendance figures and some statistical assumptions allow one to arrive at a rough figure of 86,000 people who attended them. Particularly noteworthy are the talks He gave in thirty-one liberal and moderate white Protestant churches, fourteen Theosophical and other metaphysical gatherings, five universities, three synagogues, one African American church, the Lake Mohonk Peace Conference, Hull House, and the fourth annual NAACP conference.

'Abdu'l-Bahá's talks can be divided roughly into two types: those to the public and those primarily to Bahá'í audiences. A "generic" public talk gradually developed throughout His journey that emphasized up to ten principles of the Bahá'í Faith. Talks to Bahá'ís, on the other hand—especially the last talk to them in each locality—usually emphasized two things: the Covenant and obedience to `Abdu'l-Bahá as the Center of the Covenant on the one hand, and teaching the Faith on the other. The former emphasis presaged some provisions of the Will and Testament, while the latter anticipated aspects of the Tablets of the Divine Plan. 
(Robert Stockman, Lights of Irfan, volume 13, 2012, ‘Irfán Colloquia)

January 18, 2014

‘Abdu’l-Baha was asked: ‘What is the relationship between God and nature?’

The Master went into another room where a young man with a striking personality and pleasing appearance asked Him in what school He had studied philosophy. The Master answered: `In the same school where Christ studied.' He then asked the Master, `What is the relationship between God and nature?' The Master replied:

“Some of the philosophers believe that God is the Supreme Reality and that every human being has a spark of this divine reality within him; that He Himself is in a state of utmost power and that all things manifest Him according to their different capacities. Therefore they hold that the Supreme Being is dispersed into infinite forms. This is the position of Plato. But we say that existence as conceived by man or comprehended through human reason or intellect is a characteristic of matter. Matter is like unto essence, while existence is its manifestation. The body of man is essence and existence is dependent upon it. This human body is matter while existence is a power conditioned on matter.”

January 11, 2014

‘Abdu’l-Baha describes characteristics of a Baha’i teacher

As regards the teachers, they must completely divest themselves from the old garments and be invested with a new garment. According to the statement of Christ, they must attain to the station of rebirth -- that is, whereas in the first instance they were born from the womb of the mother, this time they must be born from the womb of the world of nature. Just as they are now totally unaware of the experiences of the fetal world, they must also forget entirely the defects of the world of nature. They must be baptized with the water of life, the fire of the love of God and the breaths of the Holy Spirit; be satisfied with little food, but take a large portion from the heavenly table. They must disengage themselves from temptation and covetousness, and be filled with the spirit. Through the effect of their pure breath, they must change the stone into the brilliant ruby and the shell into pearl. Like unto the cloud of vernal shower, they must transform the black soil into the rose-garden and orchard. They must make the blind seeing, the deaf hearing, the extinguished one enkindled and set aglow, and the dead quickened. (‘Abdu’l-Baha, ‘Tablets of the Divine Plan Revealed by 'Abdu'l-Bahá to the North American Bahá'ís’; The Compilation of Compilations, vol. II, Guidelines for Teaching)

January 7, 2014

To “immerse” oneself “in the sea of sacrifice, with his heart fixed upon the beauty of the All-Glorious”

Regarding the statement in "The Hidden Words", that man must renounce his own self, the meaning is that he must renounce his inordinate desires, his selfish purposes and the promptings of his human self, and seek out the holy breathings of the spirit, and follow the yearnings of his higher self, and immerse himself in the sea of sacrifice, with his heart fixed upon the beauty of the All-Glorious. (‘Abdu’l-Baha, ‘Selections from the Writings of Abdul-Bahá’; Compilation ‘Hidden Words: References of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi’, prepared by the Research Department of the Universal House of Justice)