For today’s daily reflection, I wish to share the attached video created by Tricia Hague-Barrett, which, IMO, perfectly shows how the lack of development of virtues and both inner and outer perfections leaves us as barren trees as expressed in the following quote from Baha’u’llah. Thank you Tricia for allowing All Things Baha’i to share this wonderful short video. To see more of Tricia’s video creations, go here.
“Strain every nerve to acquire both inner and outer perfections, for the fruit of the human tree hath ever been and will ever be perfections both within and without. It is not desirable that a man be left without knowledge or skills, for he is then but a barren tree. Then, so much as capacity and capability allow, ye needs must deck the tree of being with fruits such as knowledge, wisdom, spiritual perception and eloquent speech.”
(From a Tablet – translated from the Persian, Baha’u’llah, The Compilation of Compilations vol. I, p. 367)
About the video: “What qualities and virtues do we have? If not used, we lose them. It is important to teach children to practice these virtues along the road to adulthood. Music by Mana.” (by Tricia Hague-Barrett – TizArt Studio)
Today, we are about to commemorate the Declaration of Bahá’ulláh in the Garden of Ridvan, in Baghdad, Iraq. All around the world, in little villages, hamlets and cities, the Baha’is are gathering. In homes, halls, and even in the fields, they gather together in unity with their friends who help to commemorate this event.
However, we might do well to remember that the long journey to The Garden of Ridvan, did not go well for The Blessed beauty. He was very frail, small in stature, having spent 4 months and 2 days in the ‘black pit’ in Iran, near the residence of The Shah of Iran, and His Blessed shoulders were covered in wounds from the famous chains that had cut almost through His bones. The vermin and disease rampant in such a filthy dungeon were unable to kill Him.
(Siyah-Chal – Literally “the Black Pit”. The dark, foul-smelling, subterranean dungeon in Tihran where Bahá’u’lláh was imprisoned for four months in 1852. (Bahá’u’lláh, The Kitab-i-Aqdas, p. 254))
The galling weight of the famous 100 lb collar He had worn during His imprisonment, left their mark on His body until the end of His earthly life. We often forget that it was during these hours and in these surroundings, that He received His station from God. That what He heard under these terrible conditions, was the call of God to ‘bear and endure’, and that “By Thy Pen, Thou shall inherit the earth.” However, now was not the time to reveal this to mankind. Ten years would go by before His Revelation would be voiced in that Garden of Ridvan, (Paradise) in Baghdad. It was during this event, that Bahá’u’lláh’s hair turned white. What we also forget, is that all of this was prophesied in The Book of Revelation.
In that prison, but a few weeks later, Bahá’u’lláh, in his own words, experienced the following:
‘…lo, the breezes of the All-Glorious (God) were wafted over Me, and taught Me the knowledge of all that hath been. This thing is not from Me, but from One Who is Almighty and All-Knowing. And He (God) bade Me lift up My voice between earth and heaven…This is but a leaf which the winds of the Will of thy Lord…have stirred. Can it be still when the tempestuous winds are blowing?’ [Bahá’í World Faith, 1943, p. 55.] – (William Sears, Thief in the Night)
One like unto the Son of Man
1:14 His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; 1:15 And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters. 1:16 And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp two-edged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength. 1:17 And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last: 1:18 I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death. 1:19 Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter; 1:20 The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches.- (King James Bible, The Book of Revelation)
[Chapter 46] The Book of Enoch
1 And there I saw One who had a head of days, And His head was white like wool, And with Him was another being whose countenance had the appearance of a man, And his face was full of graciousness, like one of the holy angels.
2 And I asked the angel who went with me and showed me all the hidden things, concerning that 3 Son of Man, who he was, and whence he was, (and) why he went with the Head of Days? And he answered and said unto me: This is the son of Man who hath righteousness, With whom dwelleth righteousness, And who revealeth all the treasures of that which is hidden, Because the Lord of Spirits hath chosen him, And whose lot hath the pre-eminence before the Lord of Spirits in uprightness for ever.
4 And this Son of Man whom thou hast seen Shall raise up the kings and the mighty from their seats, [And the strong from their thrones] And shall loosen the reins of the strong, And break the teeth of the sinners. 5 [And he shall put down the kings from their thrones and kingdoms] Because they do not extol and praise Him, Nor humbly acknowledge whence the kingdom was bestowed upon them. 6 And he shall put down the countenance of the strong, And shall fill them with shame. And darkness shall be their dwelling, And worms shall be their bed, And they shall have no hope of rising from their beds, Because they do not extol the name of the Lord of Spirits.
7 And these are they who judge the stars of heaven, [And raise their hands against the Most High], And tread upon the earth and dwell upon it. And all their deeds manifest unrighteousness, And their power rests upon their riches, And their faith is in the gods which they have made with their hands, And they deny the name of the Lord of Spirits, 8 And they persecute the houses of His congregations, And the faithful who hang upon the name of the Lord of Spirits.
Was this what was indeed happening? Has this prophecy been fulfilled?
On His Release from The Black Pit
Nine year old `Abdu’l-Baha was to see His Father, as they brought Him out of the pit. His hair had turned white as the prophecy had revealed. Of course, little did the people of that Day know, that He did indeed have the seven World Religions in His hands. Not just the tiny little churches in Turkey, but the Seven Revelations gone before. The seven stars were the seven Manifestations, Who had been before, Abraham, Krishna, Moses, Zoroaster, Buddha, Jesus the Christ, and Mohammad?
He, Bahá’u’lláh, and the hundreds of others were kept in this dark underground prison and fed the smallest amount of food. His Blessed body was so thin, and in an emaciated state as He was sent in exile and while under armed guard to Baghdad one month after His release.
His Hair Turned White
Bahá’u’lláh’s reaction to this most distressful episode in His ministry was, as already observed, characterized by acute anguish. “He who for months and years,” He laments, “I reared with the hand of loving-kindness hath risen to take My life.” “The cruelties inflicted by My oppressors,” He wrote, in allusion to these perfidious enemies, “have bowed Me down, and turned My hair white. Shouldst thou present thyself before My throne, thou wouldst fail to recognize the Ancient Beauty, for the freshness of His countenance is altered, and its brightness hath faded, by reason of the oppression of the infidels.” “By God!” He cries out, “No spot is left on My body that hath not been touched by the spears of thy machinations.” -(Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 169)
H. M. Balyuzi, in his book ‘Bahá’u’lláh, The King of Glory’ p. 101, writes:
At last, Násiri’d-Dín Sháh agreed to let Bahá’u’lláh go, and decreed that He should be banished from Iran. Bahá’u’lláh had lingered in chains for four agony-laden months. Mirza Aqa Khan sent a confidant named Haji ‘Ali to bring Him out of the Siyah-Chal. The sight of the appalling condition of the dungeon and the enfeebled condition of Bahá’u’lláh deeply shocked Haji ‘Ali, who assured Bahá’u’lláh that they had had no idea of the terrible circumstances He had endured all those months. Haji ‘Ali then offered his own cloak to Bahá’u’lláh, which He refused, preferring to appear before Mirza Aqa Khan and the others of the Government in the rags He was wearing.
The Guardian of the Bahá’í Faith writes:
No sooner had He presented Himself before them than the Grand Vizir addressed Him saying: ‘Had you chosen to take my advice, and had you dissociated yourself from the Faith of the Siyyid-Bab, you would never have suffered the pains and indignities that have been heaped upon you.’ ‘Had you, in your turn,’ Bahá’u’lláh retorted, ‘followed My counsels, the affairs of the government would not have reached so critical a stage.’ Mirza Aqa Khan was thereupon reminded of the conversation he had had with Him on the occasion of the Báb’s martyrdom, when he had to be warned that ‘the flame that has been kindled will blaze forth more, fiercely than ever.’ ‘What is it that you advise me now to do?’ he inquired from Bahá’u’lláh. ‘Command the governors of the realm,’ was the instant reply, ‘to cease shedding the blood of the innocent, to cease plundering their property, to cease dishonoring their women, and injuring their children.’
That same day the Grand Vizir acted on the advice thus given him; but any effect it had, as the course of subsequent events amply demonstrated, proved to be momentary and negligible. Bahá’u’lláh was given one month to leave the country. At the time of His release from the Siyah-Chal, He was too ill to set out on a long journey. He had no home of His own now. His house had been wrecked and pillaged, and His two wives and children had found temporary accommodation in an obscure quarter of the capital. He went to live in the house of His brother, Mirza Rida-Quli, whose wife Maryam, the sister of Bahá’u’lláh’s second wife and devoted to Him, made adequate arrangements for Him to rest and recuperate. This enforced and hurried departure of Bahá’u’lláh from His native land, accompanied by some of His relatives, recalls in some of its aspects, the precipitate flight of the Holy Family into Egypt; the sudden migration of Muhammad . . . from Mecca to Medina; the exodus of Moses, His brother and His followers from the land of their birth, in response to the Divine summons, and above all the banishment of Abraham from Ur of the Chaldees to the Promised Land a banishment which, in the multitudinous benefits it conferred upon so many divers peoples, faiths and nations, constitutes the nearest historical approach to the incalculable blessings destined to be vouchsafed, in this day, and in future ages, to the whole human race, in direct consequence of the exile suffered by Him Whose Cause is the flower and fruit of all previous Revelations.(H.M. Balyuzi, Baha’u’llah – The King of Glory, p. 101-102)
He and His Blessed family had just one month to help Him recover from His ordeal, then they were sent on this long journey under guard, and in exile from His native land, across the mountains in Winter. He would remain in Baghdad for 10 years, endure being poisoned twice, and then the orders to exile Him even further afield came. The twelve Days of Ridvan began, in that beautiful Garden, (Now a hospital) In Iraq.
Today we commemorate this event. We invite all of our friends to come and join us for the first of 3 Holy Days.
1st Day of Ridvan: Declaration of Bahá’u’lláh 9th Day of Ridvan, His family was able to join him after the floods went down. 12th Day of Ridvan, He and 70 of His followers were sent in exile to Constantinople in Turkey.
Recently, I was giving some thought to the vegetable world. I had come across a statement of `Abdu’l-Bahá’s in the book “Some Answered Questions” in which He tells us:
“All the elements that are combined in man exist also in vegetables; therefore, if one of the constituents which compose the body of man diminishes, and he partakes of foods in which there is much of that diminished constituent, then the equilibrium will be established, and a cure will be obtained. So long as the aim is the readjustment of the constituents of the body, it can be effected either by medicine or by food.
“The majority of the diseases which overtake man also overtake the animal, but the animal is not cured by drugs. In the mountains, as in the wilderness, the animal’s physician is the power of taste and smell. The sick animal smells the plants that grow in the wilderness; he eats those that are sweet and fragrant to his smell and taste, and is cured. The cause of his healing is this. When the sugar ingredient has become diminished in his constitution, he begins to long for sweet things therefore, he eats an herb with a sweet taste, for nature urges and guides him; its smell and taste please him, and he eats it. The sugar ingredient in his nature will be increased, and health will be restored.
“It is, therefore, evident that it is possible to cure by foods, aliments and fruits; but as today the science of medicine is imperfect, this fact is not fully grasped. When the science of medicine reaches perfection, treatment will be given by foods, aliments, fragrant fruits and vegetables, and by various waters, hot and cold in temperature.” – `Abdu’l-Bahá
When I was just a little girl of 11 years old going on 12, my brother, Geoffrey, was only 9 years old and always getting into mischief. The stories I could tell you about his escapades would fill a book, and of course, that will have to wait till another time. I only had two kinds of foods that I absolutely craved: Lollies and Mushrooms. I loved lollies so much I could eat a 3 lb bag of mixed lollies in a couple of days.
My first job after leaving school was behind the sweet counter at a shop, and I was told I could eat whatever I wanted. Boy, they didn’t know what that consent would mean to me. The other joy of my life, mushrooms, were instilled into me as a young child. Fried in butter and this black gravy with heaps of mushrooms was perhaps my favorite food of all time and still is to this very day. Yummy! I will never forget the adventures we had in getting them for a meal.
My mother and stepfather liked to go on long trips on Saturdays into the countryside to look for mushrooms. Whenever we were looking out for big mushrooms growing in a paddock, we had to call out “mushrooms!” and our parents would stop the car so we could race each other to climb out of the car, run to and jump over the fence with our buckets to go collect them. I was the oldest, the strongest and the fastest, so I could get more mushrooms than my brother. We had different colored buckets and we wore old clothes. It didn’t matter much if we got dirty because Saturday was our bath day and it would be fun to clean up later. I had my bright red dress on today, and Geoffrey wore old trousers and a green jumper.
Sometimes we would fill both of our buckets to the brim and bring them back to the car to take home for tea. However, sometimes we would not find many. Now that was sad, because we loved mushrooms cooked in butter and in black sauce. On this day, my parents found a paddock with a lot of mushrooms in it. My brother and I were so busy picking mushrooms and had nearly filled our buckets completely when suddenly, I heard a very strange noise. A sort of Thud! Thud! Thud!
Turning around, I saw the biggest red bull that I have ever seen, and it was pawing the ground and getting ready to run towards us. I yelled out loud to Geoffrey, and we both picked up our buckets and started running towards the car.
Flinging the buckets over the gate, and with the big red bull right behind us, my brother jumped up and over the fence before me. As he jumped over the fence, his trousers got caught in the barbed wire, and it pulled some cloth right out of the back of his pants.
I jumped over the fence too, and just in time – part of my skirt was ripped as well. The big red bull stopped chasing us, but only after banging into the fence, giving us a huge big fright.
We were both still shaking when we got into the car, and our eyes were open really wide in wonder at what had just happened to us.
Guess what? We never went mushrooming without looking all around the paddock first from that day forward.
Something just seemed a little bit special about these mushrooms today, we thought, as we tucked right in. Yum, yum…. and each one of these large mushrooms would sit on a dinner plate.
I also wonder why I get the craving for them from time to time. Does my body require them? Is this what my body requires to balance out the sweet intake?
Looking back to 31 years ago when I lived in Timaru, and while searching through my boxes of papers and old articles and other worldly things that I have hoarded over the years, I found a Timaru Bahá’í newsletter (I was the editor at that time) dated October 1986. and our small Bahá’í community organized and co-sponsored a major conference on Peace. It might not seem very major by today’s standards but it was a mighty effort on the part of our community. It is wonderful to read back about our community life in those days, and this event surely pulled us all together.
Let me give an idea of the grand event that we co-sponsored. Prior to the event beginning, there were forty ads on radio and these were paid for by sponsors – mainly firms and other community organisations. In addition, they financed a three-quarter page slot in the Timaru Herald with supportive advertisements. There was a cake stall held at Northtown Mall, with peace related posters, and a Peace Seminar Stall at Stafford Mall. Extensive advertising in the Timaru Herald incorporated local Bahá’í artist, Dave Stewart’s, exciting and inventive “Peace It Together” logo. Furthermore, there were many exhaustive meetings by the steering committee, enthusiastic support from the Tangata Whenua, organised by a Kaumatua, Mr. Bruce Toa, and catering by Maatua Whangai along with tireless assistance from another local supporter, Mr Bryan Hannam, who looked after the technical and stage management side of things. There were heaps of encouragement and support from speakers and other Baha’i communities; these are just some of the factors and people that made the building up to the seminar itself an exciting one. Finally, there was a 15-minute RadioCaroline (named after Caroline Bay) interview with local Bahá’í’s, Danny Gresham and Tony Howie, on the Friday before the main event.
On the day of the event, the hall was decorated by 80 “peace” posters produced by the children of two local primary schools. Other local peace groups created and exhibited displays related to peace issues. The Bahá’í display looked particularly attractive and owed much to the loan of materials donated by the Local Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Christchurch on behalf of it’s community.
The seminar was officially opened by Mr. Bruce Toa and members of the Tangata Whenua. The highlight of this was the presentation of three white feathers as a symbol of peace, to Mrs. Gae Cherry who had kindly agreed to speak in place of Sonia Davies – whose hectic round of conferences and meetings had finally caught up with her.
Plea for Peace
Bahá’ís Huda Melson and Afsaneh Howie, from Iraq and Iran, respectively, made a moving plea for peace between their countries by each chanting a prayer in their respective languages and then joining together for the song of the Martyrs. It was sensational and brought tears to people’s eyes because these two countries were against each other back then.
Maatua Whangai provided lunch and afternoon “Devonshire” tea with proceeds going towards their Marae fund. A potluck dinner was held in the evening; the efforts of Maatua Whangai were very much appreciated, especially by our stomachs.
140 attended the regional peace seminar. The sessions were inspiring.
Dr. Neil Cherry (Left)
Dr. Neil Cherry spoke of the world situation at that time, but stressed that this was only a negative picture if we gave up. He maintained that there is enough food in the world to feed everyone with 300 calories a day in grain alone.
Neil James Cherry (29 September 1946 – 24 May 2003) was a New Zealand environmental scientist.)Peace Award
On 3 December 2002 Neil was one of the recipients of the first eight Christchurch City Peace Awards given to local groups and individuals.
Peace Award Citation:
Dr. Neil James Cherry, ONZM (Officers of the New Zealand Order of Merit)
“Neil Cherry has been a tireless worker for peace and disarmament research and education for many years. In 1985 he founded the Canterbury Branch of Scientists Against Nuclear Arms and convened the group until 1996. He was an active member of the US-based Union of Concerned Scientists and ‘Beyond War’, the Aotearoa/New Zealand Peace Foundation, Students and Teachers Educating for Peace and the Riccarton Peace Group. He was a member of the local committees of the 1986 United Nations International Year of Peace and served as the scientific member of the Public Advisory Committee on Disarmament and Arms Control from 1989-1991. He was awarded the 1990 Commemorative Medal by the government for services to peace and disarmament research and education. He has also published articles about the dangers of nuclear power and nuclear winter, and the need for nuclear disarmament. (http://www.nzine.co.nz/features/neilcherry_lifestory_part15.html)
Dr. Ali Danesh, Psychiatrist
Dr Ali Danesh, member of the New Zealand Bahá’í community, then destroyed racism as a valid concept. It was now regarded as an anti-social problem and a product of man’s lower nature. He said there were 4 steps by which the higher or spiritual nature could dominate, tolerance, equality, unity, and altruism (the last being an unattainable idea to which we were always striving). His son, John Danesh, reminded the session that youth could achieve great things by helping to break down meaningless traditions that cause division. The disease of the world was disunity. For more information about this speaker: – http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10578118
Gae Cherry’s address concerned the conflict between sexes which she said was rooted in the system. Women wished to work with men, not for them, but their talents and needs had been ignored. The assumption that any relationship involved one member being up and the other down had to be dissolved and parity achieved. Through peer relationships between the sexes, she felt that peace could come.
Have you ever been asked a serious question by a 5-year-old before? I have….
I had the most inquisitive daughter. When she had been at school for only two days, she said to me on the way home from school, “Mum, I have something serious to ask you,” and I tried to think what kind of ‘very serious question’ it could be for a five year old.
After I managed to get through the lights, I asked her what it was she wanted to know and if it could wait until we got home.
“Oh no,” she said, “I want to know right now!”
I allowed her to ask her question.
“Mum, you won’t laugh at me will you?”
“No dear.” I replied.
“Well mum, what’s abortion?”
I nearly choked on my false teeth. ‘And she wants an answer right now?’ I thought.
As we pulled into our driveway, I asked her for a couple of days to think about the subject, for it was such a serious one that if I told her wrongly, it would affect her for the rest of her life. I told her that I would give it a great deal of thought, and I would explain things in the best way I know how.
This was a doozy, and I wanted to be sure that she really wanted to know about it, and if in a couple of days she didn’t remember that she had asked, I could put aside any answer I might have by then and wait until she asked again.
That night I wrote a fictional story and printed off a copy for me to read to her. It was probably just as well, for on the way home from school two days later, she asked again.
I told her I had an answer for her, but we would have to wait till we got home for me to tell her. It was a story of life within the womb told by the baby. It was a story of the journey from the world of the fallopian, to the world of the womb and into this world.
When we arrived home, we settled down in the lounge and I read the story to her. She thought it was a lovely story, but because it didn’t seem to answer her question, she asked why I had not answered her question in the story. The word abortion was not in there.
“I have answered your question dear,” was my reply, “let me show you.”
Of the sixteen pages it took to write the story, I tore up the last 13 pages.
She understood immediately, and cried with deep emotion.
“No Revelation from God has ever taught reincarnation; this is a man-made conception. The soul of man comes into being at conception.” (From a letter on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, April 1, 1946: Lights of Guidance, p. 413.)
“Evolution in the life of the individual starts with the formation of the human embryo and passes through various stages, and even continues after death in another form. The human spirit is capable of infinite development. . . He does not pre-exist in any form before coming into this world.” From a letter on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, Nov 26 1939: Lights of Guidance, p. 413.)
“Out of the wastes of nothingness, with the clay of My command I made thee to appear, and have ordained for thy training every atom in existence and the essence of all created things. Thus, ere thou didst issue from thy mother’s womb, I destined for thee two founts of gleaming milk, eyes to watch over thee, and hearts to love thee.” (Bahá’u’lláh, Hidden Words, Persian)
“O God! Guide me, protect me, make of me a shining lamp and a brilliant star. Thou art the Mighty and the Powerful.” – `Abdu’l-Bahá