This is final lesson of our 19 Day Fast. It was my honor to walk the spiritual path with you this year. The following lesson will hopefully guide you as you continue on your spiritual journey.
‘Abdul-Baha’ has likened the vast ocean of Baha’u’llah’s, and all the divine Manifestation’s, revelations to the “school of God.” Makes sense, doesn’t it? A material education is vital for taking care of material needs. And, for spiritual souls aspiring to nobler heights and a spiritual world, a spiritual education is vital. In the school of God, there are expectations and clear guidance.
Abdul-Baha is like our spiritual counselor and guides us:
“O thou true friend! Read, in the school of God, the lessons of the spirit, and learn from love’s Teacher the innermost truths. Seek out the secrets of Heaven, and tell of the overflowing grace and favour of God.” (1)
Let’s pause and immerse ourselves in this guidance.
First, ‘Abdul-Baha is addressing the “true friends.” You will have to decide if you are a “true friend,” and God will decide what that friendship entails. And then ‘Abdul-Baha instructs those friends to obey the following actions:
1. “READ IN THE SCHOOL OF GOD.” That is why Baha’u’llah commands us to:
“Read the Verses of God every morning and evening, and he who does not read will not be known by the Covenant of God and His Testament. .. O ye servants, fear God! Be not deluded by meaningless repetition of prayers, but worship by day and by night. Should any one read but one Verse of the Verses with fragrance and spirituality, it shall avail more unto him than to read with slothfulness all the Books of God, the Protector, the Self-existent.” (2)
Know your purpose, and value every moment of this time on earth. Know that we are the students. Read, read, read; for we need spiritual input, if we wish to have spiritual output. So many don’t read more than a few sentences these days, but only in reading and reflecting, do we get our own ‘Ah-ha’s’ and understandings. Just like physical muscles, spiritual capacity grows when you exercise it.
2. DISCERN “THE LESSONS OF THE SPIRIT.” The Spirit is our tutor, our instructor, and our mentor. Don’t just read for knowledge. Read to discern the lesson. In every divine lesson, there is a purpose, a message, a warning, an example, or an instruction.
“Encourage the children from their earliest years to master every kind of learning, and make them eager to become skilled in every art — the aim being that through the favouring grace of God, the heart of each one may become even as a mirror disclosing the secrets of the universe, penetrating the innermost reality of all things; and that each may earn worldwide fame in all branches of knowledge, science and the arts.” (3)
“Their lessons consist in spiritual unity of mankind, in the refinement of character, in the etherealization of the soul so that we may learn common sense and live side by side with the spirit of fellowship, kindness and comradeship.” (4)
“Although to acquire the sciences and arts is the greatest glory of mankind, this is so only on condition that man’s river flow into the mighty sea, and draw from God’s ancient source His inspiration. When this cometh to pass, then every teacher is as a shoreless ocean, every pupil a prodigal fountain of knowledge. The sciences of today are bridges to reality; if then they lead not to reality, naught remains but fruitless illusion. By the one true God! If learning be not a means of access to Him, the Most Manifest, it is nothing but evident loss.” (5)
3. “LEARN FROM LOVE’S TEACHER.” What can love teach us? Love teaches a very different lesson than hate does, even though we learn from both. What is love? Can you recognize it? Are you attracted to it? Which gets most of your attention: love or hate? What do we learn from love? What do we learn from hate?
“The aim is this: The
> intention of the teacher must be pure,
> his heart independent,
> his spirit attracted,
> his thought at peace,
> his resolution firm,
> his magnanimity exalted and in the love of God a shining torch.
Should he become as such, his sanctified breath will even affect the rock; otherwise there will be no result whatsoever. As long as a soul is not perfected, how can he efface the defects of others! Unless he is detached from aught else save God, how can he teach the severance to others!” (6)
“And among the teachings of His Holiness Bahá’u’lláh is, that religion must be the cause of fellowship and love. If it becomes the cause of estrangement then it is not needed, for religion is like a remedy; if it aggravates the disease then it becomes unnecessary.” (7)
“If priests of religion really adored the God of love and served the Divine Light, they would teach their people to keep the chief Commandment, “To be in love and charity with all men.” But we find the contrary, for it is often the priests who encourage nations to fight. Religious hatred is ever the most cruel!“
“All religions teach that we should love one another; that we should seek out our own shortcomings before we presume to condemn the faults of others, that we must not consider ourselves superior to our neighbours! We must be careful not to exalt ourselves lest we be humiliated.” (8)
4. [LEARN] “THE INNERMOST TRUTHS.’
“That is why we consult: “…consultation must have for its object the investigation of truth.” (9)
We are here to learn and not just surface learning, but to seek the innermost truths. We are constantly disturbed and distracted by the volumes of false information that the world spins daily to cover its ineptness, perversity, and evils. We have been given this ocean to discern what is true or false.
Loosen thy tongue, expound the truths, and establish the validity of the verse: “The All-Merciful hath taught the Qur’án.” The Holy Spirit speaketh through the innermost essence of the human tongue, God’s Spirit which desireth communion with the human soul unfoldeth the truths, the Faithful Spirit writeth down and the Spirit of the Ancient of Days confirmeth. [1 Qur’án 55:2] (10)
5. “SEEK OUT THE SECRETS OF HEAVEN.” Baha’u’llah instructs us,
“Immerse yourselves in the ocean of My words, that ye may unravel its secrets, and discover all the pearls of wisdom that lie hid in its depths.” (11)
The pearls of wisdom are hidden in the depths. We are promised that if we seek we will find. But notice, that seeking is an action which we must direct. Also notice the choice of the words “secrets of heaven.” We are not seeking earthly secrets as one does in back-biting and fault-finding, instead we are seeking heavenly secrets. A secret is something that is not disclosed to everyone, in this case perhaps, just to the “true friends,” who are seeking.
6. “TELL OF THE OVERFLOWING GRACE AND FAVOR OF GOD.” This is not only about individual enrichment and salvation, we must TELL others of the grace and favor of God. However, sometimes our egos make us think that somehow we are special and more deserving than others. Also, to tell of the “overflowing grace and favors” we must be in a state of gratitude to recognize them and appreciate them. Justice is giving you what you deserve, grace is giving without deserving.
I swear by that Peerless Beauty, Who is in the Unseen Kingdom, that when the leaves loose their tongues in praise and glorification of the All-Loving Lord, and in teaching the Cause of the Kind Lord, the concourse of the Kingdom and the inmates of the Unseen Realms will give ear, and cry out with exclamations of extreme joy and jubilation.
[1 Qur’án 55:2] (10)
There are people who are smarter than us, who work harder than us, who are perhaps more deserving than us, and yet we have more or less material bounties, which many flaunt with pride or feel despair. But, if we realized that all we have is because of God, then we will be quick to share and tell others that our source of bounty is God’s grace and favour and that what we each have accomplished is solely because of the grace and favor of God.
O maid-servant of God! The radiance of favor is (cast) upon thy head and thou art clad with the robe of gift. Praise be unto God, that the breeze of the divine spring maketh the soul thrive and the fragrances of holiness are quickening the heart of man. Favor is perfect and bounty is overflowing — the doors of prosperity are opened and hearts are expanded and dilated. The drops of the cloud of favor are continually (falling) and the lakes of graces are successively overflowing. The wine of the love of God is circulating, and the melodies of thankful birds are astonishing all people distant and near. (12)
In this lesson, we have been reflecting on six specific actions in this very short verse and expounded on them with other texts. We close with Baha’u’llah’s admonition:
“It is incumbent upon every man of insight and understanding to strive to translate that which hath been written into reality and action. ” (13)
Walking the spiritual path together
1. (Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 110)
2. (Compilations, Baha’i Scriptures, p. 156)
3) (Compilations, Lights of Guidance, p. 144)
4) (SOW – Star of the West, Star of the West – 7)
5) (Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 109)
6) (Abdu’l-Baha, Baha’i World Faith – Abdu’l-Baha Section, p. 427)
7) (Abdu’l-Baha, Baha’i World Faith – Abdu’l-Baha Section, p. 286)
8) (Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 147)
9). (Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 72)
10) (Compilations, The Compilation of Compilations vol II, p. 398)
11) (Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 136)
12) (Abdu’l-Baha, Tablets of Abdu’l-Baha v2, p. 279)
13) (Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 249)