August 27, 2013

My Visits with ‘Abdu’l-Baha in 1901 & 1912 – transcript of a recording by William Copeland Dodge, February 6th, 1959

This is William Copeland Dodge. Before relating the account of my visits with 'Abdu'l-Baha in 1901 & 1912 may I offer the following prayer written by 'Abdu'l-Baha: 

'O my God! Refresh and gladden my spirit, purify my heart, illuminate my mind. I lay all my affairs in Thy hands. Thou art my Guide and Refuge. I'll no longer be sorrowful or grieved, I’ll be happy and joyful. O God! I will no longer be full of anxiety nor will I let troubles harass me. I will not dwell on the unpleasant things of life. O God! Thou art kinder to me than I am to myself. I dedicate my life to Thee, O God!'

At 4:15 in the afternoon of November 16th, 1901, ‘Abdu’l-Baha entered our room and greeted us. We had just arrived at His Holy household in the prison city of Acca, Syria having traveled in a carriage driven by two horses along the shore of the Mediterranean from Haifa. ‘Abdu’l-Baha said: 'Welcome, my boys', and chanted a prayer for my brother Wendell and me. Wendell was 18 and I was 21 September 6, 1901. My father Arthur Pillsbury Dodge had arranged the trip for us. At that time, ‘Abdu’l-Baha was a prisoner of the Turkish government. But He was allowed the freedom of the city. His home was in the original section of the city enclosed by a high wall. As Acca increased in population a second high wall was build around the city. Finally a third high wall enclosed the entire area.

Before we could enter Acca, it was necessary to obtain a recommendation from the United States government. This requirement was in addition to the usual passport. ‘Abdu’l-Baha was such a living example of love and humility that the government officials, became friendly with Him. General Badri Beg of the Turkish army was the frequent guest at dinner with ‘Abdu’l-Baha, while we were there.

We stayed with ‘Abdu’l-Baha in His household 19 days: November 16th, 1901 to December 4th, 1901. Every day breakfast was served to us in our room. The noon day meal and the evening dinner we had with ‘Abdu’l-Baha at His table. Generally about 16 Persian believers attended each meal, making 19 present. In the Holy Land at that time women did not eat with men when others than the family were present. Each morning after breakfast ‘Abdu’l-Baha came to our room and greeted us. He was gracious, considerate and always concerned with our comfort. At every meal ‘Abdu’l-Baha gave us lessons and allowed us plenty of time to record His remarks in our notebooks.

August 3, 2013

The Hidden Words of Baha’u’llah -- a talk by Hand of the Cause Abu'l-Qasim Faizi, December 9, 1967, Wilmette, Illinois

First of all, a general description of The Hidden Words:

When you study The Hidden Words, and compare it with other Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, the Writings revealed in Adrianople and later on in the Most Great Prison, you will come to realize that The Hidden Words is the embryonic stage of our Faith. Whatever exists in our Faith exists in The Hidden Words in an embryonic form. By that I mean the general shape of things is given, but not very clear, distinct, explicit and detailed. There are those references to many different aspects of our Faith. It is like a seed which is sown in the city of Baghdád, grew in Adrianople, and reached its fruition in the Most Great Prison. I will give you two examples and the rest you will find by yourselves.

In The Hidden Words Bahá'u'lláh says, "How can you ever turn from this clear, sweet water to that which is wine?"[1] This is not a prohibition sentence. It's just a statement: How can you turn from this to that? But when it grew, the tree grew in Adrianople, and then in the city of 'Akká the Book of Aqdas was revealed, it was utterly forbidden. It is no more ambiguous. It's explicit and is absolutely forbidden for any Bahá'í under any form.

In another place, He says:

"Do you remember that Covenant I made with you in that early morning?"[2] But what is the Covenant? Nobody knew at that time. I said that nobody knew; there were many who knew even then that 'Abdu'l-Bahá was the Center of the Covenant when He was a boy of twelve years. There were many who knew that, but the others did not know. It was ambiguous. But in the city of 'Akká, it was revealed in the Book of Aqdas [The Kitáb-i-Aqdas] that all that is known to you in the books and the writings regarding this Covenant that this refers to the Most Great Branch. He then made it explicit and 'Abdu'l-Bahá was introduced. That's why I call it the Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh in its embryonic stage. This is one way to study this book.

The Hidden Words to me is a very glorious sunrise in a beautiful forest. When you study this glorious sunrise and this glorious forest, you must not go and think about one sentence. You will never realize the glory of it, the immensity and majesty of it. You will lose sight of the whole glorious sunrise. Therefore you stay far away from it so you can see the whole view in front of you, very clearly, full of color, full of beautiful references. When you go away from it, you will find it is a world , a plan of life for man. The lines are beautifully drawn; the roads are perfectly paved, on condition that we will not pay attention to little words here and there at the beginning. This is a mistake that many of us do with all the Writings; we stick to one sentence, and we stick to it accompanied by doubt.