This morning as I recited the Greatest Name and said a morning prayer, I couldn’t help but think of the spirit in which I recite them and the thoughts and imagery I invoke to reach a state of recognition. I struggle at first to clear the noise of the world outside and strip the mist that blinds me from reflecting on the attributes of Baha’u’llah.
“The Greatest Name is the Name of Bahá’u’lláh. ‘Yá Bahá’u’l-Abhá’ is an invocation meaning: “O Thou Glory of Glories!’ ‘Alláh-u-Abhá’ is a greeting which means: ‘God the All-Glorious’. Both refer to Bahá’u’lláh. By ‘Greatest Name’ is meant that Bahá’u’lláh has appeared in God’s Greatest Name, in other words, that He is the supreme Manifestation of God.” (From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of Australia and New Zealand, December 26, 1941)
Upon waking and sleeping we are asked to recall the Greatest Name. I say to myself “Good Morning, Baha’u’llah” and before bed, “Good Night, Baha’u’llah” and shelter myself both day and night under the loving protection of the Greatest Name.
“The Greatest Name should be found upon the lips in the first awakening moment of early dawn. It should be fed upon by constant use in daily invocation, in trouble, under opposition, and should be the last word breathed when the head rests upon the pillow at night. It is the name of comfort, protection, happiness, illumination, love and unity.” (‘Abdu’l-Bahá: United States Supplement to Bahá’í News, No. 80, p. 2, October 1964)
I once had a dream, some may say a vision. I was walking along the sidewalk away from the home I grew up in, and I heard the sound of what seemed to be someone swimming. I remember feeling that this was strange since there had never been a pool there before. There was a wall of evergreens between the sidewalk and the pool making it difficult to see who was swimming. At one point, a small break in between trees, I saw long flowing black hair upon the water as a man swam by my view. I was intrigued. As I walking further along I peered through another opening and he was standing there looking at me. I gasped with embarrassment. My thoughts raced. He was the most beautiful man I had ever seen. “Could this be?” I thought to myself. “NO!!”, It can’t be, I thought. As I made a left at the corner to continue along my walk, the pool was in full view and the man was walking toward me through the water leaving a wake. He was smiling at me with his hand outreached, asking me to join him without words. I stood silent, taking in the vision. Then a strong sense of shame came over me. “Who was I to take his hand,” I shrunk. I began to back away and he began to walk up the pool steps, still with outreached hand and a serene look of peace upon his face. I sensed that he wished me to accept his invitation – to join him was an overwhelming yearning and attraction. I somehow understood that it was more than for just a swim or physical fancy, but a communion of spirits. My sense of shame and unworthiness kept me from taking his hand. I always wondered what I would have seen or experienced if I had only taken that outreached, welcoming hand; something I did not feel I was worthy of at the time. I am working on that. Anyway, I digress.
This is one of the images that I call upon to help me remember Who I am invoking. I am not saying that I saw Baha’u’llah, but one never knows. I have never seen him so can’t really say. But, if He is anything like the man I met, we are in for the best welcome when we reach the next world.
Next, I reflect on the Blessed Beauty’s attributes: love, peace, beauty, radiant countenance, mercy, forgiveness, illumination, power, the fashioner and so forth.
In addition, to further assist with concentration, I recall the following excerpt from a talk given in India in 1964 by Ruhiyyih Khanum in which she explains that it is important to recognize the station of the one you invoke. In this case, when repeating the Greatest Name, one is referring to Baha’u’llah.
“…When we pray to Baha’u’llah, we can address our prayers to Him and say: ‘O Baha’u’llah’, and open our hearts and say anything we want to Him, but then we must remember that He is the Supreme Manifestation of God for this day, that now He is the Door to Divine Knowledge that has been opened in this world. In other words, we must remember the teachings and Who Baha’u’llah is when we pray to Him. The same thing is true about ‘Abdu’l-Baha. We can pray to ‘Abdu’l-Baha and ask Him to help us, or say anything that we wish to say, but then we must remember that ‘Abdu’l-Baha is not the Prophet of God, but that He is the Mystery of God, that He is the perfect man, that He is the Centre of the Covenant and as what He is, we must pray to Him. Then we can pray to the Guardian. We can pray to him and say, ‘O Shoghi Effendi, help us, you who are the Guardian, the Sign of God on earth, the Interpreter of the teachings, our guide, our protector, our Guardian.’ We must know who he is according to the teachings and then pray to him in that station. This is true throughout everything…” (Reflecting on What it Means to be a Baha’i – A Talk given by Hand of the Cause, Amatu’l-Baha Ruhiyyih Khanum in India, in 1964)
The story I shared above brings to mind the ‘Tablet of the Hair’ by Baha’u’llah, which I would like to share with you now.
HE IS THE ALMIGHTY
My hair is my Messenger. It is calling aloud at all times upon the branch of fire within the hallowed and luminous Garden of Paradise, that perchance the inmates of the realm of creation may detach themselves from the world of dust and ascend unto the retreats of nearness — the Spot where the Fire seeketh illumination from the light of the countenance of God, the Glorious, the Powerful.
O ye that have consecrated yourselves to this Fire! Sing ye melodies, pour out sweet tones, rejoice with exceeding gladness and make haste to attain the presence of Him Who is the Object of adoration, bearing witness that no God is there besides God, the All-Knowing, the All-Wise, the All-Compelling.
HE IS THE GOD OF WISDOM
My hair is My Phoenix. Therefore hath it set itself upon the blazing fire of My Face and receiveth sustenance from the garden of My Countenance. This is the station wherein the Son of “Imran” (Moses) removed from the feet of selfish desire the coverings of the attachment to all else but Him and was illumined by the splendours of the Light of holiness in the undying Fire kindled by God, the Potent, the Gracious, the Ever-Forgiving.
HE IS THE MOST EXCELLENT, THE BEST BELOVED!
A lock of My hair is My Cord. He who layeth fast hold on it shall never to all eternity go astray, for therein is his guidance to the splendours of the Light of His beauty.
HE IS GOD
My hair is My Veil whereby I conceal My beauty, that haply the eyes of the non-believers among My servants may not fall upon it. Thus do We conceal from the sight of the ungodly the glorious and sublime beauty of Our Countenance
HE IS THE ETERNAL
My hair beareth witness for My beauty that verily I am God and that there is none other God but me. In My ancient eternity I have ever been God, the One, the Peerless, the Everlasting, the Ever-living, the Ever-Abiding, the Self-Subsistent.
O denizens of the everlasting Realm! Let your ears be attentive to the stirrings of this restless and agitated hair, as it moveth upon the Sinai of Fire, within the precincts of Light, this celestial Seat of divine Revelation. Indeed there is no God besides me. In My most ancient pre-existence I have ever been the King, the Sovereign, the Incomparable, the Eternal, the Single, the Everlasting, the Most Exalted.
O peoples of the heavens and of the earth! Were ye to sanctify your ears ye would hear My hair proclaim that there is none other God except Him, and that He is One in His Essence and in everything that beareth relationship unto Him. And yet how fiercely have you cavilled at this beauty; not withstanding that the outpourings of His grace have encompassed all that dwell in the billowing oceans of His Revelation and Creation. Be ye fair therefore in your judgement concerning His upright Religion, for the love of this Youth who is riding high upon the snow-white She-Camel betwixt earth and heaven; and be ye firm and steadfast in the path of Truth.
- La’áliyu’l-Hikmat Vol. 3 (Rio de Janeiro: Editora Bahá’í Brazil, 1991) p. 75. The Bahá’í Library gratefully acknowledges the aid of Khazeh Fananapazir in finding the references for all five Tablets and providing the Arabic transliteration of the title. (-M.W.]
- La’áliyu’l-Hikmat Vol. 3, p. 75 [-K.F.]
- La’áliyu’l-Hikmat Vol. 3, p. 75 [-K.F.]
- La’áliyu’l-Hikmat Vol. 3, p. 68 [-K.F.]
- La’áliyu’l-Hikmat Vol. 3, p. 76 [-K.F.]
*Note accompanying 1938 publication in Baha’i News: “This is the Tablet read by Mrs. Thomas Collins in presenting at the Convention the Guardian’s gift of locks of Baha’u’llah’s Hair. The Tablet is shared with the believers with the Guardian’s permission.” Though the translation had been approved by Shoghi Effendi, it was more recently (2001) sent to the Baha’i World Center to verify its authenticity. The translation given here is an authorized translation from the BWC, approved for distribution. Translator not identified.
Hold on tight the to the cord of His Hair – the Cord of the Covenant!