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STAR OF THE WEST
"We desire but the good of the world and the happiness of the nations; that all nations shall become one in faith and all men as brothers; that the bonds of affection and unity between the sons of men shall be strengthened; that diversity of religion shall cease and differences of race be annulled. So it shall be; these fruitless strifes, these ruinous wars shall pass away, and the ‘Most Great Peace’ shall come."—BAHA'O'LLAH.
Vol. VI Jamal 1, 71 (April 28, 1915) No. 3
"There is need for an Educator; there must needs be in the world a Universal Teacher"
Talk by Abdul-Baha at the home of Mrs. Parsons, Washington, D. C., November 7, 1912
From stenographic notes by Mr. Joseph H. Hannen
IN THE world of nature we observe expressions of the struggle for existence. We find efforts of the survival of the fittest everywhere. And this is the very cause of error in the theories and opinions of man. Because we state a priori that nature is defective. When we glance at the world of nature we discover numerous defects which must be removed by means of education. For example, consider man: If we study human beings who have been reared according to the postulates of nature, if we observe them in their aboriginal condition, we will find them defective indeed.
Regard the people of central Africa. They have not received religious education nor have they received any form of civilization. They have grown, developed and advanced only according to their aboriginal state. We find them all to be bloodthirsty. We find them all to be possessed of immoral qualities, animalistic in type to such an extent that they even kill and devour each other. This makes it evident that the world of nature, if left alone, presents defects, because it is a plane upon which the struggle for existence expresses itself. If we leave a piece of ground in its natural state, wild weeds and thorns will grow therefrom, wild trees of the jungle will spring up. But if we train or cultivate that piece of ground, the result of cultivation will be that it will rid itself of the defects of nature, will become transformed into a rose-garden of variegated hues, or an orchard of fruitful trees. This proves that the world of nature is defective. The schools which are founded, the systems of education which are established, are for what? They are for replacing the defects of nature with virtues and perfections. If the world of nature were not defective there would be no need of cultivation or education. There would be no need for training. But inasmuch as we find that children are in need of education and training, that they require cultivation—it proves conclusively that the world of nature must be developed. Many things show clearly that the world of nature is defective and imperfect. One of the basic evidences of this imperfection is the expression of the survival of the fittest among the brutes; their ignorance, sensual qualities, susceptibilities of the animal type and free vent of passions. There is need for an educator. There is need forever for the teacher. There must needs be in the world a universal teacher. Teachers are of two kinds: the private or special teacher, and the universal instructor. The universal instructors are the prophets of God, and the special teachers are the philosophers. The philosophers are only capable of educating a circumscribed circle of people. They can only train a limited number of human souls, whereas the holy divine manifestations of God are capable of conferring upon humanity
a general education. They arise to bestow upon humanity a moral education universal in scope. They are the cause of general development. For example, consider that his holiness Moses was a universal teacher, and how in the early days he educated the people of Israel; how he enabled them to rescue themselves from the lowest abyss of despair and ignorance and caused them to attain the highest level of knowledge and refinement. For they were captives and in bondage, but through him they were freed. He led them out of bondage into the Holy Land and caused them to advance. This formerly oppressed and
"VERILY, I declare that these teachings constitute the illumination of humanity; that this is the spirit of modernism; that this is the honor everlasting; that these are heavenly teachings, and the cause of life never-ending amongst men."
downtrodden people, captives of the Pharaohs, were helped to establish a sovereignty Solomonic in proportion. This is an example of a universal teacher, a universal instructor. Again, consider his holiness Christ: how that marvelous example of unity, his holiness Christ, gave an education in ethical training to the Roman, Greek, Egyptian, Syrian and Assyrian nations and welded them together by a bond indissoluble. These various nations were formerly at enmity, hostile, and in a state of continuous strife. He cemented them together and caused them to agree, conferred a general tranquillity upon humanity and established the means of welfare to the human race. Hence he was a real educator. He was the instructor of reality.
When we consider or study the conditions prior to the rise of the prophet of Arabia, we find that the Arabian peninsula was in a state of utmost ignorance. Those tribes were constantly waging war and shedding the blood of one another, burning the houses and homes of each other, and lived in a state of utmost immorality. They were baser and lower than animals. His holiness Mohammed appeared as a prophet among such a people. He educated such a barbarous nation, rescued them from savagery and ignorance and put an end to the continuous strife and warfare which had existed amongst them. He caused them to agree and reconcile. He unified them and caused them to be as brothers. He enabled them to advance along the degrees
of upward development and civilization. Whereas they were formerly ignorant they became wise; whereas they were formerly barbarous, they became refined; whereas they were formerly debased, they became elevated; whereas they were humiliated, later they became renowned. This proves that he was an educator, that he was a teacher.
In the nineteenth century there was ignorance of the utmost degree in the Orient. There was continuous warfare and strife. The apathy and ignorance of the eastern nations or peoples had reached the lowest pitch. They were indeed gloomy and dark, utterly negligent of God and completely captives of the baser feelings and passions. The struggle for existence had been in full exercise amongst them.
At such a time as this his holiness Baha'o'llah appeared amongst them,
even like unto the sun. He flooded the east with light. He expounded new teachings to them. He laid a basis for new institutions which are the very spirit of modernism, the very light of the world, the cause of the development of the body politic and of eternal honor. The souls who hearkened to these teachings amongst the various Oriental nations immediately let go of that spirit of strife and sedition, and began to exercise the utmost of good-will and good-fellowship. From the extremity of animosity they were transformed into the acme of love and amity. They had been warring and quarreling, now they began to be loving and to live together in amity, until today in the Orient such people—the Bahais—live in the utmost state of love and good-fellowship. Among them you will find no expression of religious prejudice, no political prejudice, no patriotic prejudice; nay rather, they associate together with utmost fellowship and love, and their joy is exceedingly great. The warfare which takes place in the east is not at all connected with them. They do not participate in it. Nay rather, their attitude towards all is one of good-will and good-fellowship. It is a standard of peace which is unfurled amongst them. It is the Light of Guidance which has flooded all their souls with its radiances. It is love upon love. It is light upon light. This is the education of his holiness Baha'o'llah. This is the training he has given them. He has led these souls to this standard. He has given them such teachings as to ensure eternal illumination amongst them. Anyone who becomes well versed in these teachings will say: "Verily, I declare that these teachings constitute the illumination of humanity, that this is the spirit of modernism; that this is the honor everlasting; that these are heavenly teachings, and the cause of life never-ending amongst men."
"It is proved that the existence of phenomena is effected through the Eternal Will"
Talk by Abdul-Baha at the home of Mrs. Parsons, Washington, D. C., November 10, 1912
From stenographic notes by Mr. Joseph H. Hannen
THIS is the last evening we meet here; therefore it shall be our farewell visit. Just now upstairs a lady asked a question which I wish to answer. As it is a very important question and in need of a thorough explanation, and as you are waiting here it was decided that the answer should be given downstairs so that the questioner might be satisfied and at the same time we should enjoy our meeting and visit. The question was, "What is the Reality of Divinity, or what do we understand by God?"
This is an important question indeed. It is a very subtle subject. Therefore, listen to it very carefully. After you leave here ponder over it in order that you may understand the result of this explanation. It is a very subtle question. When we glance at all phenomena, we discover that the real identity of any given phenomenon is unknown. Phenomena or created objects are known only by their attributes. Man discerns only manifestations or attributes of objects, whereas the reality or identity of them is unknown to him.
For example, this flower—what do we understand by this flower? We understand the qualities apparent and appertaining to this flower; but the very elemental reality or identity of the flower remains unknown to us. As regards its external appearance and attributes, these are knowable; but as regards the inner being, the very identity, it is unknown. Now so long as earthly
STAR OF THE WEST
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TABLET FROM ABDUL-BAHA.
HE IS GOD!
O thou Star of the West!
Be thou happy! Be thou happy! Shouldst thou continue to remain firm and eternal, ere long, thou shalt become the Star of the East and shalt spread in every country and clime. Thou art the first paper of the Bahais which is organized in the country of America. Although for the present thy subscribers are limited, thy form is small and thy voice weak, yet shouldst thou stand unshakable, become the object of the attention of the friends and the center of the generosity of the leaders of the faith who are firm in the Covenant, in the future thy subscribers will become hosts after hosts like unto the waves of the sea; thy volume will increase, thy arena will become vast and spacious and thy voice and fame will be raised and become world-wide—and at last thou shalt become the first paper of the world of humanity. Yet all these depend upon firmness, firmness, firmness!
(Signed) ABDUL-BAHA ABBAS.
phenomena are unknown as regards their identity, and are known only through their properties or qualities, how much more is this true concerning the reality of divinity, that holy reality which cannot be comprehended by any human grasp? That which comes within human grasp is finite, and we are infinite in relation thereto because we can grasp it. Assuredly the finite is lesser than the infinite; the infinite is ever greater. That reality of divinity to be contained within human grasp would be after all possessed of an intellectual existence only; a mere intellectual concept with no extraneous existence; an image or a likeness which had come within the grasp of human mind or intellect. The mind of man would be transcendental thereto. How could it be then that an image which has only intellectual existence is the reality of divinity which is infinite? Therefore the reality of divinity in its identity is beyond the range of human intellection, because the human mind, the human intellect, the human thought are limited, whereas the reality of divinity is unlimited. How can the limited grasp the unlimited and transcend it? Impossible! The unlimited always comprehends the limited. The limited can never comprehend, surround or take in the unlimited. Therefore every concept of divinity which has come within the intellection of a human being is finite or limited, and is a pure product of imagination, whereas the reality of divinity is holy and sacred above and beyond all such concept.
But the question may be asked "How shall we know God?" We know Him by His attributes. We know Him by His signs. We know Him by his names. We know not what the reality of the sun is. But we know the sun by the ray, by the heat, by its efficacy, by its penetration. By the bounty and effulgence of the sun we recognize the sun, but as to what constitutes the reality of the solar energy, that is unknowable to us. But the attributes characterizing the sun are knowable. If we wish to come in touch with the reality of divinity, we do so by recognizing its phenomena, its attributes and traces which are widespread in the universe. All things in the world of phenomena are expressive of that one reality. Its lights are shining, its heat is manifest, its power is expressive and its education or training resplendent everywhere. What proof could there be greater than that of its functioning, or its attributes which are manifest? This plant or this flower; we ask, does it exist or not? Can this plant—this flower—comprehend the reality of man? Can it
put itself in touch with the human existence or reality? Evidently not. It is entirely out of tune with the human kingdom; it is not possessed of the capacity, although both man and the flower have been created. But the difference in the degrees between the vegetable and the human is ever a hindrance, an obstacle. Inasmuch as the degree of capacity appertaining to this plant is inferior to our human kingdom, consequently it is entirely impossible for the plant, which is inferior, to comprehend man who is superior, although both are accidental or created. We are created; likewise this plant is existent, this mineral exists, this wood exists; but can this flooring here comprehend those who are standing upon it? Impossible. Why? Because sight and hearing are properties or faculties belonging to a higher kingdom than the mineral. The difference between these two kingdoms, the vast difference between the mineral kingdom and the human kingdom is a hindrance to comprehension.
How then can the reality of man which is accidental, ever comprehend the Reality of God which is eternal? It is self-evidently an impossibility. Hence we can observe the traces and attributes of God which are resplendent in all phenomena and shining as the sun at midday, and know surely that these emanate from an infinite source. We know that they come from a source which is infinite indeed!
Furthermore: It is a philosophical principle that the existence of phenomena implies composition, and that mortality or non-existence is equivalent to decomposition. For example, certain elements have come together and as a result of that composition man is here. Certain elements have entered into the structure of this flower. Certain organic or cellular elements have been utilized in the composition of every animal organism. Therefore, we can state that existence necessitates composition and death is another expression for decomposition. When there is disintegration amongst these composing elements, that is death. That is mortality. The elements, which have gone into the body of this flower and which have given existence to this form and shape, will finally disintegrate;—this beautiful organism will decompose—and this we call mortality, death. Consequently the conclusion is that life means composition and death spells decomposition. On this account the materialists are of the opinion that life is the mere conjoining of elemental substances into myriad forms and shapes. The materialist comes to the conclusion that life in other words means composition; that wherever we find single elements combined in aggregate form there we behold the phenomena of organic life; that every organic composition is organic life. Now if life means composition of elements then the materialist may come to the conclusion of the non-necessity of a composer, the non-necessity of a creator; for composition is all there is to it, and that is accomplished by adhesion or cohesion. In response to this we say that composition must needs be of three kinds. This is a very important and subtle question. Give it your fullest attention. Then you will appreciate the point. One form of composition is termed philosophically the accidental form, another the voluntary, or a third, the involuntary composition. As to the first or accidental composition; accidental composition, would signify that certain elements through inherent qualities and powers of attraction or affinity have been gathered together—have blended together and composed a certain form, being or organism. This can be proven to be false; for composition is an effect, and philosophically no effect is conceivable without causation. No effect can be conceived of without some primal cause. For example, this heat is an effect; but that energy which gives forth this phenomenon of heat is the cause. This light is an effect, but back of it is the energy which is the cause. Is it possible for this light to be separated from the energy whereof it is a property? That is impossible and inconceivable. It is self-evidently false. Accidental composition is,
therefore, a false theory and may be excluded.
As to the second form of composition—involuntary—this means that each element has within itself as an inherent property the power of composition. For example, the inherent quality of fire is burning or heat; heat is a property of fire. Humidity is the inherent nature or property of water. You cannot conceive of H2O, which is the chemical form of water, without having humidity associated, for that is an inherent quality of water. The power of attraction has as its function attractive or magnetic qualities. We cannot separate attraction from that power. The power of repulsion has as its function repelling,—sending off. You cannot separate the effect from the cause. If these premises be true—and they are self-evident—then it would be impossible for a, composite being, for certain elements which have gone into the make-up of a composite organism, to ever be decomposed, because the inherent nature of each element would be to hold fast together. As fire cannot be separated from heat, likewise the elemental being could not be subjected to decomposition, and this does not hold true, because we see decomposition everywhere. Hence this theory is untrue, inasmuch as we observe that after each composition there is a process of decomposition, which forever ends it. By this we learn that composition as regards phenomena is not accidental or not involuntary. Then what have we left as a form of composition? It is the voluntary form of composition, which means that composition is effected through a superior will—that there is will expressed in this motive or action. It is thus proved that the existence of phenomena is effected through the eternal will, the will of the living, eternal and self-subsistent, and this is a rational proof concerning composition, whereof there is no doubt or uncertainty. Furthermore, it is quite evident that our kind of life, our form of existence is limited, and that the reality of all accidental phenomena, is likewise limited. The very fact that the reality of phenomena is limited well indicates that there must needs be an unlimited reality, for were there no unlimited or infinite reality in life, the finite being of objects would be inconceivable. To make it plainer for you,—if there were no wealth in the world you would not have poverty. If there were no light in the world you could not conceive of darkness. Why? Because we know things philosophically by their antitheses. We know for example that poverty is the lack of wealth. Where there is no knowledge there is no ignorance. What is ignorance? It is the absence of knowledge. Therefore, our limited existence is a proof conclusive that there is a reality unlimited, and this is a shining proof and evident argument. I have been speaking today from morning until now. This evening I have analyzed this subject for you. Many are the proofs concerning this matter, but there is not time to go into the subject further, for there is still another meeting and engagement to be kept. Therefore, I beg your pardon and indulgence.
As I said before, this is our last evening, and I ask God that His confirmations may encompass you; that your hearts may become radiant; that your eyes become illumined through witnessing the signs of God; that your ears hearken to the anthems of heaven; that your faces be set aglow with the radiant light of the word of God. May you all be united; may you be agreed, may you serve the solidarity of mankind. May you be well-wishers of all humanity. May you be assistants of every poor one. May you be nurses for the sick. May you be sources of comfort to the broken in heart. May you be a refuge for the refugee. May you be a source of courage to the affrighted one. Thus through the favor and assistance of God may the standard of the happiness of humanity in the center of the world be held aloft, and may this flag be unfurled.
Adieu to each and all of you!