Read: Training Course on the Hidden Words


This course on The Hidden Words is dedicated with great love and gratitude to the Universal House of Justice and its Four-Year Plan--may my life become a ransom for its complete success--for which this course was created in response to and in obedience to its call for training institutes. This course has passed review from the Review Office of the U.S. Bahá'í National Center, and can therefore be freely distributed. The author can be contacted at d-bradford@juno.com.
[Deepening Project, presented as a homework assignment for the "Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh" Course, year one: January 1998.]

SYLLABUS

Course Title: Some Lessons from the Hidden Words
Required Text: The Hidden Words by Bahá'u'lláh
Weekly Assignments: Read and Study the Hidden Words assigned for the upcoming class, with the topic in mind and Memorize one of them
Recommended Class Length: 8 weeks of classes at 4 hours./week. Recommended is to allow appr. 2 hours. for each topic.



Click on any "Week" to jump to that chapter
Week 1: Introduction
Reading Assignment:
From the Arabic: Introduction
Topics:
(1) Justice
Reading Assignment:
From the Arabic: # 2, 28
From the Persian: # 64
(2) Backbiting & Faultfinding
Reading Assignment:
From the Arabic: # 26, 27, 29
From the Persian: # 44, 66
Week 2: Topics:
(1) God's Love & Our Relationship to Him
Reading Assignment:
From the Arabic: # 3, 4, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 17, 19, 20, 40, 58, 59, 60, 64, 65, 69, 70, 71
(2) Our Relationship to Each Other
Reading Assignment:
From the Arabic: # 30, 68
From the Persian: # 3, 5, 43, 44, 48, 49, 54, 56
Week 3: Topics:
(1) Death & Eternal Life
Reading Assignment:
From the Arabic: # 6, 14, 18, 23, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 63, 64
From the Persian: # 7, 39, 44, 58, 70
(2) Martyrdom
Reading Assignment:
From the Arabic: # 45, 46, 47, 71
From the Persian: # 17
Week 4: Topics:
(1) Teaching
Reading Assignment:
From the Arabic: # 41, 42, 43
From the Persian: # 36
(2) Deeds Not Words
Reading Assignment:
From the Arabic: # 31, 68,
From the Persian: # 5, 35, 59, 60, 65, 67, 69, 76
Week 5: Topics:
(1) Poverty & Wealth
From the Arabic: # 25, 52, 53, 55, 56, 57, 68
From the Persian: # 11, 49, 51, 53, 54, 55, 80, 81, 82
(2) Contentment & Detachment
Reading Assignment:
From the Arabic: # 8, 17, 18, 38, 49, 55
From the Persian: # 10, 12, 55, Epilogue
Week 6: Topics:
(1) Choices
Reading Assignment:
From the Arabic: # 13, 21, 22, 23, 37, 62
From the Persian: # 2, 21, 22, 29, 79
(2) Virtues
Reading Assignment:
From the Arabic: # Introduction, 27, 42
From the Persian: # 3, 6, 38, 42, 47, 49, 50, 55, 77
Week 7: Topics:
(1) Tests & Difficulties
Reading Assignment:
From the Arabic: # 48, 49, 50, 51, 55
From the Persian: # 25, 35, 69
(2) Idle Fancies & Vain Imaginings
Reading Assignment:
From the Arabic: # 56, 62, 63
From the Persian: # 23, 29, 45, 79
Week 8: Topics:
(1) The Purging of Self
Reading Assignment:
From the Arabic: # 38, 39, 40, 42
From the Persian: # 22, 32, 38, 40, 69, 72
(2) Purity of Heart
Reading Assignment:
From the Arabic: # 1, 59
From the Persian: # 8, 10, 17, 25, 26, 27, 31, 33, 35, 41, 42, 44, 45, 52, 56, 57, 58, 59, 60, 78
[+CHAPTER1]

INTRODUCTION TO THE COURSE ON THE HIDDEN WORDS

One may ask why it is important to study the Hidden Words. One obvious reason is that it is the revealed Word of God. Let us study Bahá'u'lláh's own introduction to the Hidden Words. I think it will become clear why it is so important for us to study them.

"HE IS THE GLORY OF GLORIES

This is that which hath descended from the realm of glory, uttered by the tongue of power and might, and revealed unto the Prophets of old. We have taken the inner essence thereof and clothed it in the garment of brevity, as a token of grace unto the righteous, that they may stand faithful unto the Covenant of God, may fulfill in their lives His trust, and in the realm of spirit obtain the gem of Divine virtue."

'Abdu'l-Bahá also tells us plainly why the study of the Hidden Words is so important in the following two passages taken from His discourses and writings. In the first passage presented below, He also graces us with an interpretation of the above-quoted Introduction to the Hidden Words.

"Bahá'u'lláh has revoiced and reestablished the quintessence of the teachings of all the Prophets, setting aside the accessories and purifying religion from human interpretation. He has written a book entitled the Hidden Words. The preface announces that it contains the essences of the words of the Prophets of the past, clothed in the garment of brevity, for the teaching and spiritual guidance of the people of the world. Read it that you may understand the true foundations of religion and reflect upon the inspiration of the Messengers of God. It is light upon light." ['Abdu'l-Bahá, Promulgation of Universal Peace, Vol. 1, p. 86.]

"From amongst all mankind hath He chosen you, and your eyes have been opened to the light of guidance and your ears attuned to the music of the Company above; and blessed by abounding grace, your hearts and souls have been born into new life. Thank ye and praise ye God that the hand of infinite bestowals hath set upon your heads this gem-studded crown, this crown whose lustrous jewels will forever flash and sparkle down all the reaches of time.

To thank Him for this, make ye a mighty effort, and choose for yourselves a noble goal. Through the power of faith, obey ye the teachings of God, and let all your actions conform to His laws. Read ye The Hidden Words, ponder the inner meanings thereof, act in accord therewith. ... and rise up as ye are bidden in the heavenly teachings. Thus may each one of you be even as a candle casting its light, the centre of attraction wherever people come together ..." ['Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 35.]

This particular course on the Hidden Words is designed so as to be able to be used in several ways: 1) as a course to be taught and led by a teacher (preferably someone who is him/herself very familiar with the Hidden Words; (2) for individual study; and (3) as deepenings on the various subjects presented, using the Hidden Words as the primary source of quotations from the Writings. The only other thing needed is a copy of The Hidden Words themselves. At the end of each topic, some suggestions for discussion on the topic are presented. The topics for discussion are, by no means, exhaustive. They are presented as possible topics or questions in order to encourage discussion in the group. A prayer which is relevant to the topic is also presented.

Before beginning this course on the Hidden Words I think it is important to provide some historical background on their revelation by Bahá'u'lláh. The Guardian of the Bahá'í Faith, Shoghi Effendi has the following to say about the Hidden Words:

'Next to this unique repository of inestimable treasures must rank that marvelous collection of gem-like utterances, the "Hidden Words" with which Bahá'u'lláh was inspired, as He paced, wrapped in His meditations, the banks of the Tigris. Revealed in the year 1274 A.H., partly in Persian, partly in Arabic, it was originally designated the "Hidden Book of Fátimih," and was identified by its Author with the Book of that same name, believed by Shí'ah Islám to be in the possession of the promised Qá'im, and to consist of words of consolation addressed by the angel Gabriel, at God's command, to Fátimih, and dictated to the Imám 'Alí, for the sole purpose of comforting her in her hour of bitter anguish after the death of her illustrious Father. ...' [Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, pp. 139-140.]

JUSTICE

One of the most important and expounded upon principles in the Bahá'í Faith is that of Justice. Bahá'u'lláh shows the primacy of this principle very clearly in The Hidden Words. Bahá'u'lláh wastes no time in bringing out the principle of Justice. Indeed, He first mentions this all-important principle in the Hidden Words with the second one revealed in the Arabic language, stressing its importance and the advantages to anyone who adheres to it. He says:

"O SON OF SPIRIT! The best beloved of all things in My sight is Justice; turn not away therefrom if thou desirest Me, and neglect it not that I may confide in thee. By its aid thou shalt see with thine own eyes and not through the eyes of others, and shalt know of thine own knowledge and not through the knowledge of thy neighbor. Ponder this in thy heart; how it behooveth thee to be. Verily justice is My gift to thee and the sign of My loving-kindness. Set it then before thine eyes."

The previous Hidden Word points out the advantages to observing justice. The following one warns of the penalty for neglecting justice. As Bahá'ís, we learn to appreciate and promote justice in the world. However, words are not enough. Bahá'u'lláh warns us of the importance of having our deeds live up to our words. In Arabic Hidden Word No.28, He says:

"O SON OF SPIRIT! Know thou of a truth: He that biddeth men be just and himself committeth iniquity is not of Me, even though he bear My name."

To have Bahá'u'lláh, nay God Himself, say that one "is not of Me, even though he bear My name" (Bahá'í) would be intolerable to a Bahá'í. If you have any doubts that Bahá'u'lláh is referring to those who bear His name, or that to bear His name is indeed to bear God's name, study the following quote from the Báb as He addresses His disciples during His own Dispensation:

"O My beloved friends! You are the bearers of the name of God in this Day." [The Báb, quoted in The Dawn-Breakers, Nabíl, p. 92.]

Bahá'u'lláh reveals an even sterner warning in the Persian Hidden Word No. 64. Here He states that even forgiveness imay be withheld for injustices committed. Justice is indeed a supreme quality that must be assiduously worked for and guarded. He says:

"O OPPRESSORS ON EARTH! Withdraw your hands from tyranny, for I have pledged Myself not to forgive any man's injustice. This is My covenant which I have irrevocably decreed in the preserved tablet and sealed with My seal."

More importantly, let's see what 'Abdu'l-Bahá has to say on the subject of Justice as it relates to the Hidden Words:

'In the Hidden Words Bahá'u'lláh says, "Justice is to be loved above all." Praise be to God, in this country the standard of justice has been raised; a great effort is being made to give all souls an equal and a true place. This is the desire of all noble natures; this is today the teaching for the East and for the West; therefore the East and the West will understand each other and reverence each other, and embrace like long-parted lovers who have found each other.' ['Abdu'l-Bahá, 'Abdu'l-Bahá In London, p. 20.]

Suggested Topics for Discussion:

-- Discuss the importance which Bahá'u'lláh attaches to Justice
-- Discuss what the world would be like if there were no justice anywhere
-- Discuss what the world would be like if perfect justice prevailed and where we, as a Bahá'í community, now stand in bringing about that perfect justice
-- Discuss how we, as individuals, can help to bring justice into the world

Suggested Prayer:
    O God, my God! Thou hast lighted the lamp of Thy Cause with the oil of wisdom; protect it from contrary winds. The lamp is Thine, and the glass is Thine, and all things in the heavens and on earth are in the grasp of Thy power. Bestow justice upon the rulers, and fairness upon the ivines. Thou art the All-Powerful, Who, through the motion of Thy Pen, hast aided Thine irrestible Cause, and guided aright Thy loved ones. Thou art the Possessor of power, and the King of might. No God is there but Thee, the Strong, the Unconstrained. --Bahá'u'lláh [Bahá'u'lláh, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, pp. 104-105.]

BACKBITING AND FAULTFINDING

One of the strongest prohibitions in the Bahá'í Faith is that against backbiting and faultfinding. Bahá'u'lláh especially stresses this principle in the Hidden Words. In the following two Hidden Words, Arabic No. 26 & 27 respectively, He strongly emphasizes how backbiting and faultfinding are abhorrent to Him, saying that such a one as is guilty of this transgression is "accursed." Bahá'u'lláh says:

"O SON OF BEING! How couldst thou forget thine own faults and busy thyself with the faults of others? Whoso doeth this is accursed of Me."

and

"O SON OF MAN! Breathe not the sins of others so long as thou art thyself a sinner. Shouldst thou transgress this command, accursed wouldst thou be, and to this I bear witness."

This is not a new prohibition. Indeed, other Holy Books also mention this. To illustrate this, observe how similar the above Hidden Word, No. 27, is to this passage from the Gospel of John:

"So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her."--[John,viii:7.]

Bahá'u'lláh continues this theme with Arabic Hidden Word #29. Here He takes the prohibition a little farther than in the previously quoted Hidden Words, saying not only to avoid talking about the sins of others "so long as thou art thyself a sinner" but, in addition, we should not "ascribe" to anyone what we ourselves would not like to have ascribed to us. Indeed, He makes it a "command."

"O SON OF BEING! Ascribe not to any soul that which thou wouldst not have ascribed to thee, and say not that which thou doest not. This is My command unto thee, do thou observe it."

In Persian Hidden Word #44, Bahá'u'lláh again puts backbiting in terms of our own selves.

"O COMPANION OF MY THRONE! Hear no evil, and see no evil, abase not thyself, neither sigh and weep. Speak no evil, that thou mayest not hear it spoken unto thee, and magnify not the faults of others that thine own faults may not appear great; and wish not the abasement of anyone, that thine own abasement be not exposed. Live then the days of thy life, that are less than a fleeting moment, with thy mind stainless, thy heart unsullied, thy thoughts pure, and thy nature sanctified, so that, free and content, thou mayest put away this mortal frame, and repair unto the mystic paradise and abide in the eternal kingdom for evermore."

Notice how Bahá'u'lláh in the above quoted Hidden Word also cites some of the rewards of refraining from backbiting. He says: "Speak no evil, that thou mayest not hear it spoken unto thee, and magnify not the faults of others that thine own faults may not appear great; and wish not the abasement of anyone, that thine own abasement be not exposed." Isn't it a relief to know that our own faults can remain hidden. In the above Hidden Word Bahá'u'lláh also reminds us that our days here are "less than a fleeting moment". Do we really want to waste this limited time focusing our attention on the faults of others instead of correcting our own faults and serving our Lord to the best of our ability? In the next Hidden Word, from the Persian #66, Bahá'u'lláh states unequivocally what He intends us to do with the tongues with which we have been blessed. He says:

"O EMIGRANTS! The tongue I have designed for the mention of Me, defile it not with detraction. If the fire of self overcome you, remember your own faults and not the faults of My creatures, inasmuch as every one of you knoweth his own self better than he knoweth others."

Suggested Topics for Discussion:

-- Discuss the harm backbiting causes to the teller, the hearer, and the object of the backbiting
-- Discuss different ways you can handle the situation where someone is backbiting or faultfinding or gossiping--either to you or in front of you
-- Discuss the benefits to everyone involved when you refuse to participate in backbiting
-- Go over Persian Hidden Word #44 line by line and discuss each line of it thoroughly as to how it applies to the individual.

Suggested Prayer:
   O God our Lord! Protect us through Thy grace from whatsoever my be repugnant unto Thee, and vouchsafe unto us that which well beseemeth Thee. Give us more out of Thy bounty, and bless us. Pardon us for the things we have done, and wash away our sins, and forgive us with Thy gracious forgiveness. Verily, Thou art the Most Exalted, the Self-Subsisting.
    Thy loving providence hath encompassed all created things in the heavens and on the earth, and Thy forgiveness hath surpassed the whole creation. Thine is sovereignty; in Thy hand are the Kingdoms of Creation and Revelation; in Thy right hand Thou holdest all created things, and within Thy grasp are the assigned measures of forgiveness. Thou forgivest whomsoever among Thy servants Thou pleasest. Verily, Thou art the Ever-Forgiving, the All-Loving. Nothing whatsoever escapeth Thy knowledge, and naught is there which is hidden from Thee. O God our Lord! Protect us through the potency of Thy might, enable us to enter Thy wondrous surging ocean, and grant us that which well befitteth Thee. Thou art the Sovereign Ruler, the Mighty Doer, the Exalted, the All-Loving. --The Báb [ The Báb, Bahá'í Prayers, 1991 ed., pp. 79-80. [+CHAPTER2]

GOD'S LOVE FOR US AND OUR RELATIONSHIP TO HIM

One thing most of us know--in our hearts, even if sometimes not in our heads--is that the one thing which we can count on in this world, and indeed in every world, is God's love for us. Bahá'u'lláh makes this very clear to us in the following two Hidden Words, from the Arabic, #s 3 and 4 respectively. Listen to the love expressed in these two Hidden Words.

"O SON OF MAN! Veiled in My immemorial being and in the ancient eternity of My essence, I knew My love for thee; therefore I created thee, have engraved on thee Mine image and revealed to thee My beauty."

"O SON OF MAN! I loved thy creation, hence I created thee. Wherefore, do thou love Me, that I may name thy name and fill thy soul with the spirit of life."

This love, however, must be reciprocated by us. Indeed, He tells us "If thou lovest Me not, My love can in no wise reach thee." The next three Hidden Words, from the Arabic, #s 5, 6, and 7 respectively, are all related to each other and bring out this need for us to love Him. In # 5, He says what we need to do, saying "Love Me, that I may love thee." In # 6, He tells us why this is so important, saying "Thy Paradise is My love;" and, finally, in # 7, He tells us how to do this, saying "If thou lovest Me, turn away from thyself".

"O SON OF BEING! Love Me, that I may love thee. If thou lovest Me not, My love can in no wise reach thee. Know this, O servant."

"O SON OF BEING! Thy Paradise is My love; thy heavenly home, reunion with Me. Enter therein and tarry not. This is that which hath been destined for thee in Our kingdom above and Our exalted dominion."

"O SON OF MAN! If thou lovest Me, turn away from thyself; and if thou seekest My pleasure, regard not thine own; that thou mayest die in Me and I may eternally live in thee."

Do we need any further urging or instruction? If so, let's turn to the next two Hidden Words in which Bahá'u'lláh tells us where to find His stronghold and the importance of abiding therein.

"O SON OF BEING! My love is My stronghold; he that entereth therein is safe and secure, and he that turneth away shall surely stray and perish." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. A9.]

"O SON OF UTTERANCE! Thou art My stronghold; enter therein that thou mayest abide in safety. My love is in thee, know it, that thou mayest find Me near unto thee." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. A10.]

Don't make the mistake of thinking that these two Hidden Words contradict each other simply because one says "My love is My stronghold" and the other says "Thou art My stronghold". Quite the contrary; notice how # A10 goes on to say "My love is in thee," which puts it in perfect agreement with # A9. Notice, too, how Bahá'u'lláh connects our "safety" with His "stronghold". In this uncertain world, aren't we all looking for some place where we CAN be "safe and secure," and here Bahá'u'lláh tells us all we need to know about that place of safety.

In Hidden Word # 19 from the Arabic, presented next, we can not only feel the love He holds for us, but He also gives an explanation of the direct relationship He has established with us.

"O SON OF THE WONDROUS VISION! I have breathed within thee a breath of My own Spirit, that thou mayest be My lover. Why hast thou forsaken Me and sought a beloved other than Me?"

In the next two Hidden Words, presented below, Bahá'u'lláh also tells of the relationship He has established with us, telling us that "My light is in thee" and "within thee have I placed the essence of My light." When we reflect this light which He has placed within us, we get a glimpse of and can reflect the beauty of God Himself.

"O SON OF BEING! Thou art My lamp and My light is in thee. Get thou from it thy radiance and seek none other than Me. For I have created thee rich and have bountifully shed My favor upon thee." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. A11.]

"O SON OF BEING! With the hands of power I made thee and with the fingers of strength I created thee; and within thee have I placed the essence of My light. Be thou content with it and seek naught else, for My work is perfect and My command is binding. Question it not, nor have a doubt thereof." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. A12.]

Can we really have any doubt that His "work is perfect"? In the next three Hidden Words, Bahá'u'lláh goes on to tell us even more of this relationship we have with Him built upon love.

"O SON OF SPIRIT! My claim on thee is great, it cannot be forgotten. My grace to thee is plenteous, it cannot be veiled. My love has made in thee its home, it cannot be concealed. My light is manifest to thee, it cannot be obscured." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. A20.]

"O YE SONS OF SPIRIT! Ye are My treasury, for in you I have treasured the pearls of My mysteries and the gems of My knowledge. Guard them from the strangers amidst My servants and from the ungodly amongst My people." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. A69.]

"O DWELLERS OF MY PARADISE! With the hands of loving-kindness I have planted in the holy garden of paradise the young tree of your love and friendship, and have watered it with the goodly showers of My tender grace; now that the hour of its fruiting is come, strive that it may be protected, and be not consumed with the flame of desire and passion." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. P34.]

And how can we express this love we feel in return? The next few Hidden Words give us some guidance on this question.

"O SON OF BEING! Walk in My statutes for love of Me and deny thyself that which thou desirest if thou seekest My pleasure." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. A38.]

"O SON OF MAN! Neglect not My commandments if thou lovest My beauty, and forget not My counsels if thou wouldst attain My good pleasure." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. A39.]

"O SON OF MAN! For everything there is a sign. The sign of love is fortitude under My decree and patience under My trials." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. A48.]

That last one particularly says how we can show our love, as He tells us outright what is "The sign of love". And how do we learn about love? The next Hidden Word gives us a clue about unraveling "the mysteries of love".

"O YE DWELLERS IN THE HIGHEST PARADISE! Proclaim unto the children of assurance that within the realms of holiness, nigh unto the celestial paradise, a new garden hath appeared, round which circle the denizens of the realm on high and the immortal dwellers of the exalted paradise. Strive, then, that ye may attain that station, that ye may unravel the mysteries of love from its wind-flowers and learn the secret of divine and consummate wisdom from its eternal fruits. Solaced are the eyes of them that enter and abide therein!" [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. P18.]

In the next two Hidden Words, Bahá'u'lláh tells us not only of our relationship to Him, saying "Thy hearing is My hearing," and "Thy sight is My sight," but also of what our relationship should be with all of His servants saying, "Deny not My servant should he ask anything from thee". After all, if we do indeed strive to hear with His hearing and see with His sight, we should see all of His servants with the love that He sees them and can really understand it when Bahá'u'lláh says "for his face is My face;" it would be truly wonderful to develop the spiritual capacity to see Him in every face and respond accordingly.

"O SON OF THE THRONE! Thy hearing is My hearing, hear thou therewith. Thy sight is My sight, do thou see therewith, that in thine inmost soul thou mayest testify unto My exalted sanctity, and I within Myself may bear witness unto an exalted station for thee." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. A44.]

"O SON OF MAN! Deny not My servant should he ask anything from thee, for his face is My face; be then abashed before Me." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. A30.]

If all this seems extremely difficult, don't be discouraged. Bahá'u'lláh Himself tells us how difficult loving Him will be in Hidden Word # 66 from the Arabic, presented next. The following Hidden Word, # 67 from the Arabic, also gives a clue as to why we may have difficulty understanding.

"O CHILDREN OF THE DIVINE AND INVISIBLE ESSENCE! Ye shall be hindered from loving Me and souls shall be perturbed as they make mention of Me. For minds cannot grasp Me nor hearts contain Me." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. A66.]

"O SON OF BEAUTY! By My spirit and by My favor! By My mercy and by My beauty! All that I have revealed unto thee with the tongue of power, and have written for thee with the pen of might, hath been in accordance with thy capacity and understanding, not with My state and the melody of My voice." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. A67.]

However difficult this may be, though, He also gives us plenty of encouragement to reach out to Him and tells us of His gifts to us, as is shown in the following three Hidden Words.

"O SON OF MAN! Put thy hand into My bosom, that I may rise above thee, radiant and resplendent." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. A60.]

"O SON OF MAN! My eternity is My creation, I have created it for thee. Make it the garment of thy temple. My unity is My handiwork; I have wrought it for thee; clothe thyself therewith, that thou mayest be to all eternity the revelation of My everlasting being." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. A64.]

"O SON OF MAN! My majesty is My gift to thee, and My grandeur the token of My mercy unto thee. That which beseemeth Me none shall understand, nor can anyone recount. Verily, I have preserved it in My hidden storehouses and in the treasuries of My command, as a sign of My loving-kindness unto My servants and My mercy unto My people." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. A65.]

In Hidden Word # 15 from the Arabic, presented next, Bahá'u'lláh tells us "Turn thy face unto Mine and renounce all save Me;" He then goes on to tell us why we should do this and of the futility of turning to anyone else. If you think about it, since Bahá'u'lláh is the perfect Mirror, a Manifestation of God, turning to Him is like turning to God Himself. To whom else but God should we turn, and what benefit could we possibly get from turning to anyone but God? In addition are presented two more Hidden Words in which we are told of our great need for Him.

"O SON OF UTTERANCE! Turn thy face unto Mine and renounce all save Me; for My sovereignty endureth and My dominion perisheth not. If thou seekest another than Me, yea, if thou searchest the universe for evermore, thy quest will be in vain." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. A15.]

"O SON OF MAN! Wert thou to speed through the immensity of space and traverse the expanse of heaven, yet thou wouldst find no rest save in submission to Our command and humbleness before Our Face." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. A40.]

"O SON OF MAN! Be thou content with Me and seek no other helper. For none but Me can ever suffice thee." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. A17.]

Indeed, He lives in our hearts, if we would but prepare a place for Him. The next two Hidden Words show how our hearts are indeed His "home" and what we should "plant" in our hearts. To have Him so close as to be in our very hearts is surely worth a little effort to "cleanse" "sanctify" and "plant." Again, we are the ones who really benefit from this.

"O SON OF BEING! Thy heart is My home; sanctify it for My descent. Thy spirit is My place of revelation; cleanse it for My manifestation." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. A59.]

"O FRIEND! In the garden of thy heart plant naught but the rose of love, and from the nightingale of affection and desire loosen not thy hold. Treasure the companionship of the righteous and eschew all fellowship with the ungodly." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. P3.]

In the next two Hidden Words Bahá'u'lláh tells of His fears for us, and He reminds us that He will not be with us in this world forever.

"O MY CHILDREN! I fear lest, bereft of the melody of the dove of heaven, ye will sink back to the shades of utter loss, and, never having gazed upon the beauty of the rose, return to water and clay." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. P13.]

"O SON OF SPIRIT! The time cometh, when the nightingale of holiness will no longer unfold the inner mysteries and ye will all be bereft of the celestial melody and of the voice from on high." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. P15.]

In the following Hidden Words, Bahá'u'lláh reassures us about how close we actually are to "the celestial tree of love" and what we need to do.

"O SON OF LOVE! Thou art but one step away from the glorious heights above and from the celestial tree of love. Take thou one pace and with the next advance into the immortal realm and enter the pavilion of eternity. Give ear then to that which hath been revealed by the pen of glory." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. P7.]

"O SON OF SPIRIT! Burst thy cage asunder, and even as the phoenix of love soar into the firmament of holiness. Renounce thyself and, filled with the spirit of mercy, abide in the realm of celestial sanctity." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. P38.]

Finally, Hidden Word # 4 from the Persian is presented for your perusal. Here we learn even more about love as Bahá'u'lláh poses some very interesting and poignant questions and then proceeds to answer them.

"O SON OF JUSTICE! Whither can a lover go but to the land of his beloved? and what seeker findeth rest away from his heart's desire? To the true lover reunion is life, and separation is death. His breast is void of patience and his heart hath no peace. A myriad lives he would forsake to hasten to the abode of his beloved."

Suggested Topics for Discussion:

-- Discuss the significance of the two phrases "My love is My stronghold" in #A9 and "My love is in thee" in #A10
-- Discuss what it would be like to truly see with His sight and hear with His hearing as is mentioned in Hidden Word # A44
-- What can we do to sanctify our hearts for His descent

Suggested Prayer:
    My God, my Adored One, my King, my Desire! What tongue can voice my thanks to Thee? I was heedless, Thou didst awaken me. I had turned back from Thee, Thou didst graciously aid me to turn towards Thee. I was as one dead, Thou didst quicken me with the water of life. I was withered, Thou didst revive me with the heavenly stream of Thine utterance which hath flowed forth from the Pen of the All-Merciful.
    O Divine Providence! All existence is begotten by Thy bounty; deprive it not of the waters of Thy generosity, neither do Thou withhold it from the ocean of Thy mercy. I beseech Thee to aid and assist me at all times and under all conditions, and seek from the heaven of Thy grace Thine ancient favor. Thou art, in truth, the Lord of bounty, and the Sovereign of the kingdom of eternity. --Bahá'u'lláh [ Bahá'u'lláh, Bahá'í Prayers, 1991 ed., pp. 19-20.]

OUR RELATIONSHIP TO EACH OTHER

We all share this world with every other human being on this planet. Unfortunately, there is a tendency for some people to want to make themselves feel better about themselves by finding others which they think they can see as inferior to themselves, as unjust as this seems. In Hidden Word # 68 from the Arabic, Bahá'u'lláh makes it clear that this is not so, that we are all "created ... from the same dust" so "That no one should exalt himself over the other." Thus He makes the equality of our relationship with each other very clear, and instructs us to "Ponder" this "at all times".

"O CHILDREN OF MEN! Know ye not why We created you all from the same dust? That no one should exalt himself over the other. Ponder at all times in your hearts how ye were created. Since We have created you all from one same substance it is incumbent on you to be even as one soul, to walk with the same feet, eat with the same mouth and dwell in the same land, that from your inmost being, by your deeds and actions, the signs of oneness and the essence of detachment may be made manifest. Such is My counsel to you, O concourse of light! Heed ye this counsel that ye may obtain the fruit of holiness from the tree of wondrous glory." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. A68.]

In fact, as is shown in Hidden Word # 30 from the Arabic, presented next, Bahá'u'lláh tells us how we should view and react to His servants, saying: "his face is My face" and since we don't have the wisdom to justly determine who is and who is not His servant, it may be best to consider everyone as His servant, and act accordingly. Bahá'u'lláh says:

"O SON OF MAN! Deny not My servant should he ask anything from thee, for his face is My face; be then abashed before Me."

Bahá'u'lláh gives us further instruction on how we should act with each other and on what we should not do as is demonstrated in the next few Hidden Words. He says:

"O SON OF DUST! Verily I say unto thee: Of all men the most negligent is he that disputeth idly and seeketh to advance himself over his brother. Say, O brethren! Let deeds, not words, be your adorning." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. P5.]

"O MY FRIENDS! Walk ye in the ways of the good pleasure of the Friend, and know that His pleasure is in the pleasure of His creatures. That is: no man should enter the house of his friend save at his friend's pleasure, nor lay hands upon his treasures nor prefer his own will to his friend's, and in no wise seek an advantage over him. Ponder this, ye that have insight!" [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. P43.]

"O COMPANION OF MY THRONE! Hear no evil, and see no evil, abase not thyself, neither sigh and weep. Speak no evil, that thou mayest not hear it spoken unto thee, and magnify not the faults of others that thine own faults may not appear great; and wish not the abasement of anyone, that thine own abasement be not exposed. Live then the days of thy life, that are less than a fleeting moment, with thy mind stainless, thy heart unsullied, thy thoughts pure, and thy nature sanctified, so that, free and content, thou mayest put away this mortal frame, and repair unto the mystic paradise and abide in the eternal kingdom for evermore." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. P44.]

"In the third of the most holy lines writ and recorded in the Ruby Tablet by the pen of the unseen this is revealed: O BRETHREN! Be forbearing one with another and set not your affections on things below. Pride not yourselves in your glory, and be not ashamed of abasement. By My beauty! I have created all things from dust, and to dust will I return them again." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. P48.]

Bahá'u'lláh also makes it clear that we are to take care of each other, as is demonstrated in the next two Hidden Words presented, in which He speaks of the responsibility of the "rich" to care for the "poor".

"O CHILDREN OF DUST! Tell the rich of the midnight sighing of the poor, lest heedlessness lead them into the path of destruction, and deprive them of the Tree of Wealth. To give and to be generous are attributes of Mine; well is it with him that adorneth himself with My virtues." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. P49.]

"O YE RICH ONES ON EARTH! The poor in your midst are My trust; guard ye My trust, and be not intent only on your own ease." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. P54.]

In the next two Hidden Words presented, Bahá'u'lláh also tells us who we should seek out and who we should avoid in order to benefit ourselves--whose companionship we should "treasure" and whose we should "eschew"; who "increaseth sorrow," and who "cleanseth the rust from off the heart." He says:

"O MY SON! The company of the ungodly increaseth sorrow, whilst fellowship with the righteous cleanseth the rust from off the heart. He that seeketh to commune with God, let him betake himself to the companionship of His loved ones; and he that desireth to hearken unto the word of God, let him give ear to the words of His chosen ones." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. P56.]

"O FRIEND! In the garden of thy heart plant naught but the rose of love, and from the nightingale of affection and desire loosen not thy hold. Treasure the companionship of the righteous and eschew all fellowship with the ungodly." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. P3.]

In the next Hidden Word presented, # 69 from the Arabic, we are told "Ye are My treasury," which gives us all something to think about. If we keep this in mind, as well as truly "ponder" on how we are all created "from the same dust" as was stated previously in Hidden Word # 68 from the Arabic, maybe then we can look for and see God in every person we meet.

"O YE SONS OF SPIRIT! Ye are My treasury, for in you I have treasured the pearls of My mysteries and the gems of My knowledge. Guard them from the strangers amidst My servants and from the ungodly amongst My people."

Suggested Topics For Discussion:

--Discuss what it would mean "to be even as one soul," as is stated in Hidden Word # A68.
--Discuss the connection of "detachment" to how we are to view and treat each other.
--Discuss the importance Bahá'u'lláh places upon "deeds" when He mentions our relationship to each other, as in Hidden Words #s A68 & P5, for example.

Suggested Prayer:
    O my God! O my God! Unite the hearts of Thy servants, and reveal to them Thy great purpose. May they follow Thy commandments and abide in Thy law. Help them, O God, in their endeavor, and grant them strength to serve Thee. O God! Leave them not to themselves, but guide their steps by the light of Thy knowledge, and cheer their hearts by Thy love. Verily, Thou art their Helper and their Lord. --Bahá'u'lláh [Bahá'u'lláh, Bahá'í Prayers, 1991 ed., p. 204.] [+CHAPTER3]

DEATH AND ETERNAL LIFE

Death is not something we need to fear. It is only the body that dies. The soul is immortal and cannot be annhilated as Bahá'u'lláh reassures us in Arabic Hidden Word #14:

"O SON OF MAN! Thou art My dominion and My dominion perisheth not; wherefore fearest thou thy perishing? Thou art My light and My light shall never be extinguished; why dost thou dread extinction? Thou art My glory and My glory fadeth not; thou art My robe and My robe shall never be outworn. Abide then in thy love for Me, that thou mayest find Me in the realm of glory."

It is good to know that we need not fear "perishing" or "extinction" and that we can find Him "in the realm of glory." Indeed, in the next Hidden Word, # 32 from the Arabic, Bahá'u'lláh describes death as a "messenger of joy":

"O SON OF THE SUPREME! I have made death a messenger of joy to thee. Wherefore dost thou grieve? I made the light to shed on thee its splendor. Why dost thou veil thyself therefrom?"

In the following five Hidden Words, Bahá'u'lláh goes on to tell us that we should "rejoice" and to expect "the joyful tidings of reunion" and instructs us as to the only proper reason to "sorrow" and "rejoice" as well as one of the benefits of rejoicing. He also points out that to attain to "everlasting life" we must "forsake this mortal and fleeting sovereignty."

"O SON OF SPIRIT! With the joyful tidings of light I hail thee: rejoice! To the court of holiness I summon thee; abide therein that thou mayest live in peace for evermore." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. A33.]

"O SON OF SPIRIT! The spirit of holiness beareth unto thee the joyful tidings of reunion; wherefore dost thou grieve? The spirit of power confirmeth thee in His cause; why dost thou veil thyself? The light of His countenance doth lead thee; how canst thou go astray?" [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. A34.]

"O SON OF MAN! Sorrow not save that thou art far from Us. Rejoice not save that thou art drawing near and returning unto Us." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. A35.]

"O SON OF MAN! Rejoice in the gladness of thine heart, that thou mayest be worthy to meet Me and to mirror forth My beauty." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. A36.]

"O SON OF BEING! If thine heart be set upon this eternal, imperishable dominion, and this ancient, everlasting life, forsake this mortal and fleeting sovereignty." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. A54.]

In the next Hidden Word, # 63 from the Arabic, Bahá'u'lláh tells us how to avoid the true "death" as well as "weariness" and "trouble" and to "be fit for everlasting life.," which is surely a worthwhile goal to pursue.

"O SON OF MAN! The light hath shone on thee from the horizon of the sacred Mount and the spirit of enlightenment hath breathed in the Sinai of thy heart. Wherefore, free thyself from the veils of idle fancies and enter into My court, that thou mayest be fit for everlasting life and worthy to meet Me. Thus may death not come upon thee, neither weariness nor trouble."

In Persian Hidden Word # 7 which follows, Bahá'u'lláh tells us how close we are to "the immortal realm" and "the pavilion of eternity."

"O SON OF LOVE! Thou art but one step away from the glorious heights above and from the celestial tree of love. Take thou one pace and with the next advance into the immortal realm and enter the pavilion of eternity. Give ear then to that which hath been revealed by the pen of glory."

God wants to attain "the eternal" and tells us that "Paradise" and our "heavenly home" is what He has "destined" for us, as well has giving us a definition of just what "Paradise" and our "heavenly home" are, as is shown in the next two Hidden Words. So let's not "seek that which perisheth."

"O SON OF THE SUPREME! To the eternal I call thee, yet thou dost seek that which perisheth. What hath made thee turn away from Our desire and seek thine own?" [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. A23.]

"O SON OF BEING! Thy Paradise is My love; thy heavenly home, reunion with Me. Enter therein and tarry not. This is that which hath been destined for thee in Our kingdom above and Our exalted dominion." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. A6.]

And now a few more Words about eternity and how it relates to us, as well as some things we can do to help ourselves achieve that eternity, to, for instance, "become an eternal light and an immortal spirit" and "be to all eternity the revelation of" His "everlasting being."

"O SON OF MAN! My eternity is My creation, I have created it for thee. Make it the garment of thy temple. My unity is My handiwork; I have wrought it for thee; clothe thyself therewith, that thou mayest be to all eternity the revelation of My everlasting being." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. A64.]

"O SON OF WORLDLINESS! Pleasant is the realm of being, wert thou to attain thereto; glorious is the domain of eternity, shouldst thou pass beyond the world of mortality; sweet is the holy ecstasy if thou drinkest of the mystic chalice from the hands of the celestial Youth. Shouldst thou attain this station, thou wouldst be freed from destruction and death, from toil and sin." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. P70.]

"O COMPANION OF MY THRONE! Hear no evil, and see no evil, abase not thyself, neither sigh and weep. Speak no evil, that thou mayest not hear it spoken unto thee, and magnify not the faults of others that thine own faults may not appear great; and wish not the abasement of anyone, that thine own abasement be not exposed. Live then the days of thy life, that are less than a fleeting moment, with thy mind stainless, thy heart unsullied, thy thoughts pure, and thy nature sanctified, so that, free and content, thou mayest put away this mortal frame, and repair unto the mystic paradise and abide in the eternal kingdom for evermore." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. P44.]

"O SON OF MAN! Magnify My cause that I may reveal unto thee the mysteries of My greatness and shine upon thee with the light of eternity." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. A41.]

"O SON OF MAN! My calamity is My providence, outwardly it is fire and vengeance, but inwardly it is light and mercy. Hasten thereunto that thou mayest become an eternal light and an immortal spirit. This is My command unto thee, do thou observe it." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. A51.]

And where do we look for this?

"O SON OF MY HANDMAID! Wouldst thou seek the grace of the Holy Spirit, enter into fellowship with the righteous, for he hath drunk the cup of eternal life at the hands of the immortal Cup-bearer and even as the true morn doth quicken and illumine the hearts of the dead." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. P58.]

"O YE DWELLERS IN THE HIGHEST PARADISE! Proclaim unto the children of assurance that within the realms of holiness, nigh unto the celestial paradise, a new garden hath appeared, round which circle the denizens of the realm on high and the immortal dwellers of the exalted paradise. Strive, then, that ye may attain that station, that ye may unravel the mysteries of love from its wind-flowers and learn the secret of divine and consummate wisdom from its eternal fruits. Solaced are the eyes of them that enter and abide therein!" [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. A18.]

Death is not to be feared but we do need to prepare ourselves for it, as Bahá'u'lláh warns us in the next three Hidden Words:

"O SON OF BEING! Bring thyself to account each day ere thou art summoned to a reckoning; for death, unheralded, shall come upon thee and thou shalt be called to give account for thy deeds." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. A31.]

"O OFFSPRING OF DUST! Be not content with the ease of a passing day, and deprive not thyself of everlasting rest. Barter not the garden of eternal delight for the dust-heap of a mortal world. Up from thy prison ascend unto the glorious meads above, and from thy mortal cage wing thy flight unto the paradise of the Placeless." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. P39.]

"O SON OF MAN! Divest not thyself of My beauteous robe, and forfeit not thy portion from My wondrous fountain, lest thou shouldst thirst for evermore." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. A37.]

Suggested Topics For Discussion:

-- Discuss the importance and significance of the immortality of the spirit and the mortality of the body
-- Discuss what things we need to learn in this world to prepare for the next (i.e. how to love, detachment, etc.)
-- Discuss ways we can help ourselves learn these things (i.e. observing the Fast with a spiritual attitude, as well as all of God's laws)

Suggested Prayer:
    O my God! O Thou forgiver of sins, bestower of gifts, dispeller of afflictions!
    Verily, I beseech Thee to forgive the sins of such as have abandoned the physical garment and have ascended to the spiritual world.
    O my Lord! Purify them from trespasses, dispel their sorrows, and change their darkness into light. Cause them to enter the garden of happiness, cleanse them with the most pure water, and grant them to behold Thy splendors on the loftiest mount. --'Abdu'l-Bahá ['Abdu'l-Bahá, Bahá'í Prayers, 1991 ed. pp., 45-46..]

MARTYRDOM

Everyone will die at some time or another as our bodies are not designed for immortality; only our souls are. And when we die, we will leave behind us this world and our life in it. For many, however, the desire is strong to have their death count as much (or more) as their life.

Just as we desire to serve God and seek His good pleasure by living our lives in service to Him and humanity, and in accord with His commands and His Will as it is revealed to us by His Chosen Ones, so do many wish to serve Him as well with their death by laying down their life in His path. What does Bahá'u'lláh have to say about martyrdom? Quite a lot, as is noted in the following two Hidden Words. He says:

"O SON OF MAN! Ponder and reflect. Is it thy wish to die upon thy bed, or to shed thy life-blood on the dust, a martyr in My path, and so become the manifestation of My command and the revealer of My light in the highest paradise? Judge thou aright, O servant!" [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. A46.]

"O SON OF MAN! By My beauty! To tinge thy hair with thy blood is greater in My sight than the creation of the universe and the light of both worlds. Strive then to attain this, O servant!" [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. A47.]

He points out that martyrdom is something we must choose, and tells us "Judge thou aright, O servant!" and "Strive then to attain this, O servant!" telling us that this "is greater in My sight than the creation of the universe and the light of both worlds." These are pretty strong words and a great incentive to indeed "shed" our "life-blood on the dust, a martyr in" His "path," but though the choice is always ours to indeed lay down our lives in His path rather than to recant our faith or remain inactive out of fear; still, we must also remember that whether or not we are offered this choice is according to His Will, not ours. Note that in Hidden Word # 45 from the Arabic, presented next, Bahá'u'lláh tells us "Seek a martyr's death in My path." He says "Seek",not that we must actually find one. To truly be "content with My pleasure and thankful for that which I ordain," may mean giving up our lives for Him, but we might also need to find a way to be "content" and "thankful" in being denied this great bounty, as He may have other plans for us. It is all dependent upon His "pleasure" and His Will, not upon ours. Keep in mind, though, that those who have become Bahá'u'lláh's chosen servants in this way taught the Faith fearlessly and boldly and participated in their community's affairs heedless of the possible consequences to their lives and property.

"O SON OF BEING! Seek a martyr's death in My path, content with My pleasure and thankful for that which I ordain, that thou mayest repose with Me beneath the canopy of majesty behind the tabernacle of glory."

Martyrdom is indeed highly praised by Bahá'u'lláh as was noted in the already quoted Hidden Words. In the next Hidden Word, # 71 from the Arabic, He continues this, giving "that crimson ink" as one of the inks with which we may choose to use to "Write all that We have revealed unto thee" and adding that "Sweeter indeed is this to Me than all else, that its light may endure for ever."

"O SON OF MAN! Write all that We have revealed unto thee with the ink of light upon the tablet of thy spirit. Should this not be in thy power, then make thine ink of the essence of thy heart. If this thou canst not do, then write with that crimson ink that hath been shed in My path. Sweeter indeed is this to Me than all else, that its light may endure for ever."

Suggested Topics for Discussion:

-- Discuss the obvious and not-so-obvious advantages of martyrdom
-- Discuss the importance that trust in God has in relation to this topic
-- Discuss the importance of a living martyrdom
-- Discuss how we can "seek a martyr's death in" His "path"

Suggested Prayer: He is God!
    O Lord my God! O Thou Helper of the feeble, Succorer of the poor and Deliverer of the helpless who turn unto Thee.
    With utmost lowliness I raise my suppliant hands to Thy kingdom of beauty and fervently call upon Thee with my inner tongue, saying: O God, my God! Aid me to adore Thee, strengthen my loins to serve Thee; assist me by Thy grace in my servitude to Thee; suffer me to remain steadfast in my obedience to Thee; pour forth upon me the liberal effusions of Thy bounty, let the glances of the eye of Thy loving-kindness be directed towards me, and immerse me in the ocean of Thy forgiveness. Grant that I may be confirmed in my allegiance to Thy Faith, and bestow upon me a fuller measure of certitude and assurance, that I may wholly dispense with the world, may turn my face with entire devotion towards Thy face, be reinforced by the compelling power of proofs and testimonies, and, invested with majesty and power, may pass beyond every region of heaven and earth. Verily Thou art the Merciful, the All-Glorious, the Kind, the Compassionate.
    O Lord! These are the survivors of the martyrs, that company of blessed souls. They have sustained every tribulation and displayed patience in the face of grievous injustice. They have forsaken all comfort and prosperity, have willingly submitted to dire suffering and adversity in the path of Thy love, and are still held captive in the clutches of their enemies who continually torment them with sore torment, and oppress them because they walk steadfastly in Thy straight path. There is no one to help them, no one to befriend them. Apart from the ignoble and the wicked, there is no one to associate and consort with them.
    O Lord! These souls have tasted bitter agony in this earthly life and have, as a sign of their love for the shining beauty of Thy countenance and in their eagerness to attain Thy celestial kingdom, tolerated every gross indignity that the people of tyranny have inflicted upon them.
    O Lord! Fill their ears with the verses of divine assistance and of a speedy victory, and deliver them from the oppression of such as wield terrible might. Withhold the hands of the wicked and leave not these souls to be torn by the claws and teeth of fierce beasts, for they are captivated by their love for Thee, entrusted with the mysteries of Thy holiness, stand humbly at Thy door and have attained to Thine exalted precinct.
    O Lord! Graciously reinforce them with a new spirit; illumine their eyes by enabling them to behold Thy wondrous evidences in the gloom of night; destine for them all good that aboundeth in Thy Kingdom of eternal mysteries; make them as brilliant stars shining over all regions, luxuriant trees laden with fruit and branches moving in the breezes of dawn.
    Verily, Thou art the Bountiful, the Mighty, the Omnipotent, the Unconstrained. There is none other God but Thee, the God of love and tender mercy, the All-Glorious, the Ever-Forgiving. --'Abdu'l-Bahá [ 'Abdu'l-Bahá, Bahá'í Prayers, 1991 ed., pp. 265-267.] [+CHAPTER4]

TEACHING

One of the most important actions which any Bahá'í can take is that of teaching the Bahá'í Faith. In the Hidden Words Bahá'u'lláh urges His followers to "magnify" and "arise for the triumph of" His "Cause." as is demonstrated in the following two Hidden Words, from the Arabic,# 41 and 42 respectively.

"O SON OF MAN! Magnify My cause that I may reveal unto thee the mysteries of My greatness and shine upon thee with the light of eternity."

"O SON OF MAN! Humble thyself before Me, that I may graciously visit thee. Arise for the triumph of My cause, that while yet on earth thou mayest obtain the victory."

As can be seen in the two previous Hidden Words, Bahá'u'lláh also gives us plenty of incentive to teach His Cause by mentioning some of the benefits which we can obtain by doing so. He says: "that while yet on earth thou mayest obtain the victory" and "that I may reveal unto thee the mysteries of My greatness and shine upon thee with the light of eternity." He continues this encouragement, mentioning yet another benefit which we derive from teaching, saying: "that in My heaven I may remember thee," in the next Hidden Word, # 43 from the Arabic.

"O SON OF BEING! Make mention of Me on My earth, that in My heaven I may remember thee, thus shall Mine eyes and thine be solaced."

Bahá'u'lláh also gives us some advice and instructions on who and how to teach, as can be seen in the next two Hidden Words.

"O SON OF DUST! The wise are they that speak not unless they obtain a hearing, even as the cup-bearer, who proffereth not his cup till he findeth a seeker, and the lover who crieth not out from the depths of his heart until he gazeth upon the beauty of his beloved. Wherefore sow the seeds of wisdom and knowledge in the pure soil of the heart, and keep them hidden, till the hyacinths of divine wisdom spring from the heart and not from mire and clay." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. P36.]

"O SON OF MY HANDMAID! Guidance hath ever been given by words, and now it is given by deeds. Every one must show forth deeds that are pure and holy, for words are the property of all alike, whereas such deeds as these belong only to Our loved ones. Strive then with heart and soul to distinguish yourselves by your deeds. In this wise We counsel you in this holy and resplendent tablet." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. P76.]

One might ask where we can find these "seeds of wisdom and knowledge" to help us become better teachers. What better place than in the holy Word itself. In Hidden Word # 71 from the Arabic, Bahá'u'lláh encourages us to "Write all that We have revealed unto thee with the ink of light upon the tablet of thy spirit." He even gives a choice of inks which we can use. He says:

"O SON OF MAN! Write all that We have revealed unto thee with the ink of light upon the tablet of thy spirit. Should this not be in thy power, then make thine ink of the essence of thy heart. If this thou canst not do, then write with that crimson ink that hath been shed in My path. Sweeter indeed is this to Me than all else, that its light may endure for ever."

And what better way to prepare ourselves for teaching than praying, than to "commune with" His "spirit." Listen carefully to the message of the next Hidden Word presented.

"O SON OF LIGHT! Forget all save Me and commune with My spirit. This is of the essence of My command, therefore turn unto it." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. A16.]

Bahá'u'lláh makes another appeal to us not to neglect "the mention of the Loved One," in Hidden Word # 46 from the Persian, presented next. Let us indeed make "mention of the Loved One," and not "busy" ourselves "with idle contentions." The Bahá'í Faith is such a precious gift which we have to offer to others, and the opportunity to do so is such a precious gift which Bahá'u'lláh has given to us. Let us make the most of both gifts.

"O BRETHREN IN THE PATH! Wherefore have ye neglected the mention of the Loved One, and kept remote from His holy presence? The essence of beauty is within the peerless pavilion, set upon the throne of glory, whilst ye busy yourselves with idle contentions. The sweet savors of holiness are breathing and the breath of bounty is wafted, yet ye are all sorely afflicted and deprived thereof. Alas for you and for them that walk in your ways and follow in your footsteps!"

Suggested Topics for Discussion:

-- Discuss the benefits we can obtain by teaching the Faith
-- Share your favorite teaching stories
-- Discuss different ways and methods that can be used to present the Faith to someone for the first time

Suggested Prayer:
    Magnified be Thy name, O my God, for that Thou hast manifested the Day which is the King of Days, the Day which Thou didst announce unto Thy chosen Ones and Thy Prophets in Thy most excellent Tablets, the Day whereon Thou didst shed the splendor of the glory of all Thy names upon all created things. Great is his blessedness whosoever hath set himself towards Thee, and entered Thy presence, and caught the accents of Thy voice.
    I beseech Thee, O my Lord, by the name of Him round Whom circleth in adoration the kingdom of Thy names, that Thou wilt graciously assist them that are dear to Thee to glorify Thy word among Thy servants, and to shed abroad Thy praise amidst Thy creatures, so that the ecstasies of Thy revelation may fill the souls of all the dwellers of Thine earth.
    Since Thou hast guided them, O my Lord, unto the living waters of Thy grace, grant, by Thy bounty, that they may not be kept back from Thee; and since Thou hast summoned them to the habitation of Thy throne, drive them not out from Thy presence, through Thy loving-kindness. Send down upon them what shall wholly detach them from aught else except Thee, and make them able to soar in the atmosphere of Thy nearness, in such wise that neither the ascendancy of the oppressor nor the suggestions of them that have disbelieved in Thy most august and most mighty Self shall be capable of keeping them back from Thee. --Bahá'u'lláh [Bahá'u'lláh, Bahá'í Prayers, 1991 ed., pp. 169-170.]

DEEDS NOT WORDS

"O SON OF DUST! Verily I say unto thee: Of all men the most negligent is he that disputeth idly and seeketh to advance himself over his brother. Say, O brethren! Let deeds, not words, be your adorning." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. P5.]

"Let deeds, not words, be your adorning." These are powerful words, indeed. Bahá'u'lláh stresses the importance of the deeds and actions of the individual in several of the Hidden Words. In the following Hidden Word, # 76 from the Persian, He again points out the importance of deeds over words, and urges us regarding our deeds, saying: "Strive then with heart and soul to distinguish yourselves by your deeds."

"O SON OF MY HANDMAID! Guidance hath ever been given by words, and now it is given by deeds. Every one must show forth deeds that are pure and holy, for words are the property of all alike, whereas such deeds as these belong only to Our loved ones. Strive then with heart and soul to distinguish yourselves by your deeds. In this wise We counsel you in this holy and resplendent tablet."

We should also keep in mind that it is by our deeds that we shall be judged, as Bahá'u'lláh reminds us in the next Hidden Word, # 31 from the Arabic. In addition, as is shown in Hidden Word # 68 from the Arabic, also presented next, Bahá'u'lláh tells us that it is by our "deeds and actions" that "the signs of oneness and the essence of detachment may be made manifest." This is surely a worthy goal for which to strive.

"O SON OF BEING! Bring thyself to account each day ere thou art summoned to a reckoning; for death, unheralded, shall come upon thee and thou shalt be called to give account for thy deeds." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. A31.]

"O CHILDREN OF MEN! Know ye not why We created you all from the same dust? That no one should exalt himself over the other. Ponder at all times in your hearts how ye were created. Since We have created you all from one same substance it is incumbent on you to be even as one soul, to walk with the same feet, eat with the same mouth and dwell in the same land, that from your inmost being, by your deeds and actions, the signs of oneness and the essence of detachment may be made manifest. Such is My counsel to you, O concourse of light! Heed ye this counsel that ye may obtain the fruit of holiness from the tree of wondrous glory." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. A68.]

The next two Hidden Words, which are nearly identical in wording, also point out the extreme importance of deeds. In addition, they tell us what are the only kinds of deeds that will be accepted "in the holy presence of the Adored One". Since the quality of our deeds is so important, we must really "strive with heart and soul" that they may be acceptable.

"O MY FRIENDS! Quench ye the lamp of error, and kindle within your hearts the everlasting torch of divine guidance. For ere long the assayers of mankind shall, in the holy presence of the Adored, accept naught but purest virtue and deeds of stainless holiness." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. P35.]

"O CHILDREN OF ADAM! Holy words and pure and goodly deeds ascend unto the heaven of celestial glory. Strive that your deeds may be cleansed from the dust of self and hypocrisy and find favor at the court of glory; for ere long the assayers of mankind shall, in the holy presence of the Adored One, accept naught but absolute virtue and deeds of stainless purity. This is the daystar of wisdom and of divine mystery that hath shone above the horizon of the divine will. Blessed are they that turn thereunto." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. P69.]

Bahá'u'lláh also points out that deeds that are not acceptable, that are, indeed, "satanic", will not be overlooked, but instead, "shall be laid bare and manifest before the peoples of the world." He also makes it clear that we cannot hide anything from Him. The next four Hidden Words demonstrate this. It would indeed be folly to think Him "heedless" or "unaware".

"O CHILDREN OF FANCY! Know, verily, that while the radiant dawn breaketh above the horizon of eternal holiness, the satanic secrets and deeds done in the gloom of night shall be laid bare and manifest before the peoples of the world." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. P67.]

"O REBELLIOUS ONES! My forbearance hath emboldened you and My long-suffering hath made you negligent, in such wise that ye have spurred on the fiery charger of passion into perilous ways that lead unto destruction. Have ye thought Me heedless or that I was unaware?" [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. P65.]

"O HEEDLESS ONES! Think not the secrets of hearts are hidden, nay, know ye of a certainty that in clear characters they are engraved and are openly manifest in the holy Presence." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. P59.]

"O FRIENDS! Verily I say, whatsoever ye have concealed within your hearts is to Us open and manifest as the day; but that it is hidden is of Our grace and favor, and not of your deserving." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. P60.]

Suggested Topics for Discussion:

-- Discuss what it would mean to the individual and the world if everyone truly tried to "be even as one soul"
-- Discuss how the deeds of our Exemplar, 'Abdu'l-Bahá, were always in conformity with His words
-- Discuss the importance of ourselves not only talking the talk but also walking the walk, so to speak

Suggested Prayer:
    Vouchsafe unto me, O my God, the full measure of Thy love and Thy good-pleasure, and through the attractions of Thy resplendent light enrapture our hearts, O Thou Who art the Supreme Evidence and the All-Glorified. Send down upon me, as a token of Thy grace, Thy vitalizing breezes, throughout the daytime and in the night season, O Lord of bounty.
    No deed have I done, O my God, to merit beholding Thy face, and I know of a certainty that were I to live as long as the world lasts I would fail to accomplish any deed such as to deserve this favor, inasmuch as the station of a servant shall ever fall short of access to Thy holy precincts, unless Thy bounty should reach me and Thy tender mercy pervade me and Thy loving-kindness encompass me.
    All praise be unto Thee, O Thou besides Whom there is none other God. Graciously enable me to ascend unto Thee, to be granted the honor of dwelling in Thy nearness and to have communion with Thee alone. No God is there but Thee.
    Indeed shouldst Thou desire to confer blessing upon a servant Thou wouldst blot out from the realm of his heart every mention or disposition except Thine Own mention; and shouldst Thou ordain evil for a servant by reason of that which his hands have unjustly wrought before Thy face, Thou wouldst test him with the benefits of this world and of the next that he might become preoccupied therewith and forget Thy remembrance. --The Báb [The Báb, Bahá'í Prayers, 1991 ed., pp. 150-151.] [+CHAPTER5

POVERTY AND WEALTH

Bahá'u'lláh has quite a lot to say on the subjects of poverty and wealth in the Hidden Words. The following three Hidden Words offer some comfort and hope for those upon whom poverty has descended.

"O SON OF SPIRIT! Vaunt not thyself over the poor, for I lead him on his way and behold thee in thy evil plight and confound thee for evermore." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. A25.]

"O SON OF BEING! If poverty overtake thee, be not sad; for in time the Lord of wealth shall visit thee. Fear not abasement, for glory shall one day rest on thee." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. A53.]

"O SON OF PASSION! Cleanse thyself from the defilement of riches and in perfect peace advance into the realm of poverty; that from the well-spring of detachment thou mayest quaff the wine of immortal life." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. P55.]

I found it indeed comforting, when poverty had overtaken me to read that "I lead him on his way" and that "in time the Lord of wealth shall visit thee" and that "from the well-sp[ring of detachment thou mayest quaff the wine of immortal life." Indeed, I found that poverty was a good instructor not only for "detachment" but also for trusting in God. Many tmes I, with great gratitude, truly felt Him leading me on my way.

Bahá'u'lláh also has a lot to say about wealth, and shows it to be fleeting and even dangerous at times. He says:

"O SON OF MAN! Should prosperity befall thee, rejoice not, and should abasement come upon thee, grieve not, for both shall pass away and be no more." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. A52.]

and

"O SON OF MAN! Thou dost wish for gold and I desire thy freedom from it. Thou thinkest thyself rich in its possession, and I recognize thy wealth in thy sanctity therefrom. By My life! This is My knowledge, and that is thy fancy; how can My way accord with thine?" [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. A56.]

Bahá'u'lláh also points out some of the advantages to poverty and some of the disadvantages and advantages of wealth in the following Hidden Words, taken from the Persian, # 51 and 53 respectively:

'O SON OF MY HANDMAID! Be not troubled in poverty nor confident in riches, for poverty is followed by riches, and riches are followed by poverty. Yet to be poor in all save God is a wondrous gift, belittle not the value thereof, for in the end it will make thee rich in God, and thus thou shalt know the meaning of the utterance, "In truth ye are the poor," and the holy words, "God is the all-possessing," shall even as the true morn break forth gloriously resplendent upon the horizon of the lover's heart, and abide secure on the throne of wealth.'

"O YE THAT PRIDE YOURSELVES ON MORTAL RICHES! Know ye in truth that wealth is a mighty barrier between the seeker and his desire, the lover and his beloved. The rich, but for a few, shall in no wise attain the court of His presence nor enter the city of content and resignation. Well is it then with him, who, being rich, is not hindered by his riches from the eternal kingdom, nor deprived by them of imperishable dominion. By the Most Great Name! The splendor of such a wealthy man shall illuminate the dwellers of heaven even as the sun enlightens the people of the earth!"

There are indeed advantages to poverty when we are assured that "in the end it will make thee rich in God". For what greater gift can we ask than to be "rich in God"? As for wealth, it too carries its own reward, but only if one escapes its pitfalls.

If wealth is not handled correctly it can easily destroy; but if one can overcome the dangerous effects that can come with wealth, then Bahá'u'lláh tells that "The splendor of such a wealthy man shall illuminate the dwellers of heaven even as the sun enlightens the people of the earth!"

However, Bahá'u'lláh also makes it clear how dangerous wealth can be in that same Hidden Word. The risks are indeed great when "The rich, but for a few, shall in no wise attain the court of His presence nor enter the city of content and resignation." Indeed, Bahá'u'lláh also makes it clear that "gold" is a "test" in the following Hidden Word, #55 from the Arabic:

"O SON OF BEING! Busy not thyself with this world, for with fire We test the gold, and with gold We test Our servants."

In the following Hidden Word Bahá'u'lláh again mentions wealth, making it clear where the true wealth lies, telling us to "sanctify thyself from riches, that thou mayest obtain a lasting share from My eternal wealth." In this Hidden Word Bahá'u'lláh also mentions sight, hearing, and learning, telling us what we need to do with each of these as well as with "riches."

Notice, however, that the others are later qualified, such as, for example, "empty thyself of all learning" is later qualified as "empty thyself of all learning save the knowledge of Me". However, His command to "sanctify thyself from riches" is the only one of the four to remain unqualified.

"O SON OF DUST! Blind thine eyes, that thou mayest behold My beauty; stop thine ears, that thou mayest hearken unto the sweet melody of My voice; empty thyself of all learning, that thou mayest partake of My knowledge; and sanctify thyself from riches, that thou mayest obtain a lasting share from the ocean of My eternal wealth. Blind thine eyes, that is, to all save My beauty; stop thine ears to all save My word; empty thyself of all learning save the knowledge of Me; that with a clear vision, a pure heart and an attentive ear thou mayest enter the court of My holiness." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. P11.]

Bahá'u'lláh also makes it clear how wealth that He bestows on us is to be spent as witnessed by the following three Hidden Words.

"O SON OF MAN! Bestow My wealth upon My poor, that in heaven thou mayest draw from stores of unfading splendor and treasures of imperishable glory. But by My life! To offer up thy soul is a more glorious thing couldst thou but see with Mine eye." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. A57.]

"O CHILDREN OF DUST! Tell the rich of the midnight sighing of the poor, lest heedlessness lead them into the path of destruction, and deprive them of the Tree of Wealth. To give and to be generous are attributes of Mine; well is it with him that adorneth himself with My virtues." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. P49.]

"O YE RICH ONES ON EARTH! The poor in your midst are My trust; guard ye My trust, and be not intent only on your own ease." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. P54.]

When Bahá'u'lláh addresses Persian Hidden Word #54 to "O YE RICH ONES ON EARTH!" He does not define"RICH." I guess we all need to decide for ourselves if this particular Hidden Word is addressed to us. We may feel poor because we can't purchase something we want or need, but someone living on the street may think of us as rich. Keep in mind that everything is relative. The following Hidden Word, #68 from the Arabic, tells us how we should think of each other.

"O CHILDREN OF MEN! Know ye not why We created you all from the same dust? That no one should exalt himself over the other. Ponder at all times in your hearts how ye were created. Since We have created you all from one same substance it is incumbent on you to be even as one soul, to walk with the same feet, eat with the same mouth and dwell in the same land, that from your inmost being, by your deeds and actions, the signs of oneness and the essence of detachment may be made manifest. Such is My counsel to you, O concourse of light! Heed ye this counsel that ye may obtain the fruit of holiness from the tree of wondrous glory."

If we all became truly "even as one soul" as Bahá'u'lláh tells us it is "incumbent" upon us to be, could we allow any unnecessary suffering to continue, no matter where in the world it may occur? If we could feel the hunger that someone else is feeling because he/she has no food, would we not do everything in our power to feed him? If we could feel the cold of someone who had not warm apparel, would we not do everything in our power to clothe him, to educate the ignorant, cure the ailing, comfort the distressed, and provide any other need that it is in our power to provide?

Bahá'u'lláh, however, also stresses the need for everyone who is able to work for his/her living to do so. Study the following three Hidden Words, from the Persian, #s 80, 81, and 82 respectively.

"O MY SERVANTS! Ye are the trees of My garden; ye must give forth goodly and wondrous fruits, that ye yourselves and others may profit therefrom. Thus it is incumbent on every one to engage in crafts and professions, for therein lies the secret of wealth, O men of understanding! For results depend upon means, and the grace of God shall be all-sufficient unto you. Trees that yield no fruit have been and will ever be for the fire." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. P80.]

"O MY SERVANT! The basest of men are they that yield no fruit on earth. Such men are verily counted as among the dead, nay better are the dead in the sight of God than those idle and worthless souls." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. P81.]

"O MY SERVANT! The best of men are they that earn a livelihood by their calling and spend upon themselves and upon their kindred for the love of God, the Lord of all worlds." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. P82.]

Suggested Topics for Discussion:

-- Discuss the spiritual advantages and disadvantages of poverty
-- Discuss the spiritual advantages and disadvantages of wealth
-- Discuss how detachment relates to this subject
-- In the above Hidden Word, No. A57, notice how Bahá'u'lláh says "Bestow My wealth upon My poor." He does not say for us to bestow our wealth, but His. & discuss how this phrase relates to His Name, the All-Possessing, and how He places the word "My" before both "wealth" and "poor."
-- Discuss the level of detachment that would be necessary for"The splendor of such a wealthy man shall illuminate the dwellers of heaven even as the sun enlightens the people of the earth!" as is stated above in Persian Hidden Word #53.

Suggested Prayer:
    He is the Gracious, the All-Bountiful!
    O God, my God! Thy call hath attracted me, and the voice of Thy Pen of Glory awakened me. The stream of Thy holy utterance hath enraptured me, and the wine of Thine inspiration entranced me. Thou seest me, O Lord, detached from all things but Thee, clinging to the cord of Thy bounty and craving the wonders of Thy grace. I ask Thee, by the eternal billows of Thy loving-kindness and the shining lights of Thy tender care and favor, to grant that which shall draw me nigh unto Thee and make me rich in Thy wealth. My tongue, my pen, my whole being, testify to Thy power, Thy might, Thy grace and Thy bounty, that Thou art God and there is none other God but Thee, the Powerful, the Mighty.
   I bear witness at this moment, O my God, to my helplessness and Thy sovereignty, my feebleness and Thy power. I know not that which profiteth me or harmeth me; Thou art, verily, the All-Knowing, the All-Wise. Do Thou decree for me, O Lord, my God, and my Master, that which will make me feel content with Thine eternal decree and will prosper me in every world of Thine. Thou art in truth the Gracious, the Bountiful.
    Lord! Turn me not away from the ocean of Thy wealth and the heaven of Thy mercy, and ordain for me the good of this world and hereafter. Verily, Thou art the Lord of the mercy-seat, enthroned in the highest; there is none other God but Thee, the One, the All-Knowing, the All-Wise. -Bahá'u'lláh [ Bahá'u'lláh, Bahá'í Prayers, 1991 ed., pp. 143-144.]

CONTENTMENT AND DETACHMENT

As Bahá'ís, we know--from being told by all of the authorities from our Faith many times and in many ways--how important it is for us to learn detachment from the things of this world and to turn wholly to God. The Hidden Words are certainly no exception. Bahá'u'lláh has quite a lot to say about this subject in the Hidden Words as is demonstrated in the following two Hidden Words.

"O SON OF SPIRIT! There is no peace for thee save by renouncing thyself and turning unto Me; for it behooveth thee to glory in My name, not in thine own; to put thy trust in Me and not in thyself, since I desire to be loved alone and above all that is." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. A8.]

"O MAN OF TWO VISIONS! Close one eye and open the other. Close one to the world and all that is therein, and open the other to the hallowed beauty of the Beloved." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. P12.]

In the following two Hidden Words, Bahá'u'lláh continues to talk about how we should not be too concerned with this world or what we may want from it. He says: "Busy not thyself with this world," and "deny thyself that which thou desirest if thou seekest My pleasure." After all, as spiritual beings, isn't it His pleasure that we really desire?

"O SON OF BEING! Walk in My statutes for love of Me and deny thyself that which thou desirest if thou seekest My pleasure." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. A38.]

"O SON OF BEING! Busy not thyself with this world, for with fire We test the gold, and with gold We test Our servants." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. A55.]

In the next two Hidden Words, Bahá'u'lláh is very clear about where we should NOT set our "affections".

"O FRIENDS! Abandon not the everlasting beauty for a beauty that must die, and set not your affections on this mortal world of dust." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. P14.]

"O BRETHREN! Be forbearing one with another and set not your affections on things below. Pride not yourselves in your glory, and be not ashamed of abasement. By My beauty! I have created all things from dust, and to dust will I return them again." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. P48.]

In the next Hidden Word, # 55 from the Persian, Bahá'u'lláh is very clear about the benefits of detachment, saying that "from the well-spring of detachment " we can "quaff the wine of immortal life."

"O SON OF PASSION! Cleanse thyself from the defilement of riches and in perfect peace advance into the realm of poverty; that from the well-spring of detachment thou mayest quaff the wine of immortal life."

Bahá'u'lláh again mentions detachment as He closes the Hidden Words with the Epilogue of the Persian Hidden Words, which follows. He has done His part as bidden by God. He now tells us: "Let it now be seen what your endeavors in the path of detachment will reveal." This again emphasizes the importance of "detachment".

"The mystic and wondrous Bride, hidden ere this beneath the veiling of utterance, hath now, by the grace of God and His divine favor, been made manifest even as the resplendent light shed by the beauty of the Beloved. I bear witness, O friends! that the favor is complete, the argument fulfilled, the proof manifest and the evidence established. Let it now be seen what your endeavors in the path of detachment will reveal. In this wise hath the divine favor been fully vouchsafed unto you and unto them that are in heaven and on earth. All praise to God, the Lord of all Worlds."

Going hand in hand with detachment from the world is contentment with God's Will, trusting in Him that He knows what is best for us and knowing that He loves us enough to give us exactly what we NEED, whether or not it's what we WANT. Bahá'u'lláh tells us clearly in the next two Hidden Words, from the Arabic,# 17 & 18 respectively, that this contentment is very important for us. He says:

"O SON OF MAN! Be thou content with Me and seek no other helper. For none but Me can ever suffice thee."

"O SON OF SPIRIT! Ask not of Me that which We desire not for thee, then be content with what We have ordained for thy sake, for this is that which profiteth thee, if therewith thou dost content thyself."

Bahá'u'lláh says "this is that which profiteth thee, if therewith thou dost content thyself." This is a pretty convincing argument for learning to be content with His Will. Again, in the next Hidden Word, # 70 from the Arabic, Bahá'u'lláh tells us the priceless gifts He has given to us, and urges us to be not only "content" but "thankful". It seems to me that we have quite a lot for which to be thankful.

"O SON OF HIM THAT STOOD BY HIS OWN ENTITY IN THE KINGDOM OF HIS SELF! Know thou, that I have wafted unto thee all the fragrances of holiness, have fully revealed to thee My word, have perfected through thee My bounty and have desired for thee that which I have desired for My Self. Be then content with My pleasure and thankful unto Me."

Bahá'u'lláh also warns us against being contented with less than we should, by contenting ourselves with the ephemeral things of this world and turning away from the immortal gifts He has to offer us, as is demonstrated in the next four Hidden Words. After all, why should we content ourselves with that which is "less good" or even "vile". Why should we content ourselves with nothing but "transient dust" or with "a mere cupful," when we are offered the whole ocean and so much more.

"O SON OF MAN! A dewdrop out of the fathomless ocean of My mercy I have shed upon the peoples of the world, yet found none turn thereunto, inasmuch as every one hath turned away from the celestial wine of unity unto the foul dregs of impurity, and, content with mortal cup, hath put away the chalice of immortal beauty. Vile is that wherewith he is contented." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. P61.]

"O OFFSPRING OF DUST! Be not content with the ease of a passing day, and deprive not thyself of everlasting rest. Barter not the garden of eternal delight for the dust-heap of a mortal world. Up from thy prison ascend unto the glorious meads above, and from thy mortal cage wing thy flight unto the paradise of the Placeless." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. P39.]

"O SON OF SPIRIT! The bird seeketh its nest; the nightingale the charm of the rose; whilst those birds, the hearts of men, content with transient dust, have strayed far from their eternal nest, and with eyes turned towards the slough of heedlessness are bereft of the glory of the divine presence. Alas! How strange and pitiful; for a mere cupful, they have turned away from the billowing seas of the Most High, and remained far from the most effulgent horizon." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. P2.]

"O SON OF MAN! Upon the tree of effulgent glory I have hung for thee the choicest fruits, wherefore hast thou turned away and contented thyself with that which is less good? Return then unto that which is better for thee in the realm on high." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. A21.]

But to be content with that which is given us and ordained for us is a worthy goal with its reward of being "loved and praised", as demonstrated in the following Hidden Word, # 50 from the Persian. It will benefit us to pay close attention to the lesson it teaches.

"O QUINTESSENCE OF PASSION! Put away all covetousness and seek contentment; for the covetous hath ever been deprived, and the contented hath ever been loved and praised."

Suggested Topics for Discussion:

-- Discuss the nature of the relationship between detachment from the world and contentment with God's Will for us
-- Discuss the pitfalls of being content with the things of this world rather than the things that are of God
-- Discuss how our detachment can benefit others (i.e. being more generous to others & being a good example)

Suggested Prayer:
    O Lord! Unto Thee I repair for refuge, and toward all Thy signs I set my heart.
   O Lord! Whether traveling or at home, and in my occupation or in my work, I place my whole trust in Thee.
   Grant me then Thy sufficing help so as to make me independent of all things, O Thou Who art unsurpassed in Thy mercy!
   Bestow upon me my portion, O Lord, as Thou pleasest, and cause me to be satisfied with whatsoever thou hast ordained for me.
   Thine is the absolute authority to command. --The Báb [The Báb, Bahá'í Prayers, 1991 ed., pp. 56-57.] [+CHAPTER6]

CHOICES

Free will is one of God's most precious gifts to us. With it, we can choose to help others as well as our own spiritual growth through the choices which we make in this world. We can also choose to ignore the gifts we are given and, since God is the Self-Subsistent, we are the only ones who suffer from making the wrong choices. The following few Hidden Words well illustrates how we are given priceless gifts, yet it is we who choose other things for ourselves. Bahá'u'lláh says:

"O SON OF MAN! Upon the tree of effulgent glory I have hung for thee the choicest fruits, wherefore hast thou turned away and contented thyself with that which is less good? Return then unto that which is better for thee in the realm on high." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. A21.]

"O SON OF SPIRIT! Noble have I created thee, yet thou hast abased thyself. Rise then unto that for which thou wast created." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. A22.]

"O SON OF THE SUPREME! To the eternal I call thee, yet thou dost seek that which perisheth. What hath made thee turn away from Our desire and seek thine own?" [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. A23.]

"O MOVING FORM OF DUST! I desire communion with thee, but thou wouldst put no trust in Me. The sword of thy rebellion hath felled the tree of thy hope. At all times I am near unto thee, but thou art ever far from Me. Imperishable glory I have chosen for thee, yet boundless shame thou hast chosen for thyself. While there is yet time, return, and lose not thy chance." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. P21.]

"O SON OF DESIRE! The learned and the wise have for long years striven and failed to attain the presence of the All-Glorious; they have spent their lives in search of Him, yet did not behold the beauty of His countenance. Thou without the least effort didst attain thy goal, and without search hast obtained the object of thy quest. Yet, notwithstanding, thou didst remain so wrapt in the veil of self, that thine eyes beheld not the beauty of the Beloved, nor did thy hand touch the hem of His robe. Ye that have eyes, behold and wonder." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. P22.]

"O SON OF SPIRIT! I created thee rich, why dost thou bring thyself down to poverty? Noble I made thee, wherewith dost thou abase thyself? Out of the essence of knowledge I gave thee being, why seekest thou enlightenment from anyone beside Me? Out of the clay of love I molded thee, how dost thou busy thyself with another? Turn thy sight unto thyself, that thou mayest find Me standing within thee, mighty, powerful and self-subsisting." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. A13.]

To provide some additional enlightenment on the meaning of that last Hidden Word, # 13 from the Arabic, next is presented a statement on this Hidden Word by the officially appointed Interpreter of all of Bahá'u'lláh's Writings, the Center of His Covenant, 'Abdu'l-Bahá. The following statement is attributed to Abdu'l-Bahá through a translation fo a letter to an individual made early in the twentieth century that was published in Star of the West.

'Thou hast asked about the statement in the Hidden Words, which reads: "O Son of Spirit! Turn thy face so that thou mayest find Me within thee, Powerful, Mighty and Supreme." This is the statement to which His Holiness the Christ, referred His apostles in the Gospel, saying, "The Father is in the Son, and the Son is in you."

This is evident that, when the hearts are purified and through divine education and heavenly teachings become the manifestors of infinite perfections, they are like clear mirrors, and the Sun of Truth will reflect with might, power and omnipotence in such a mirror, and to such an extent that whatever is brought before it is illumined and ignited. This is a brief interpretation because of the lack of time. Therefore, do thou reflect and ponder over it so that the doors of significance may be opened before thine eyes.' ['Abdu'l-Bahá, quoted in Star of the West, Vol. II, No. 7-8, pp. 11-12.]

Bahá'u'lláh also gives us some warnings about what can happen when we choose poorly, as is demonstrated in the next two Hidden Words presented. He warns us that we might "thirst for evermore" and "have turned away from the billowing seas of the Most High, and remained far from the most effulgent horizon." What a loss!

"O SON OF MAN! Divest not thyself of My beauteous robe, and forfeit not thy portion from My wondrous fountain, lest thou shouldst thirst for evermore." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. A37.]

"O SON OF SPIRIT! The bird seeketh its nest; the nightingale the charm of the rose; whilst those birds, the hearts of men, content with transient dust, have strayed far from their eternal nest, and with eyes turned towards the slough of heedlessness are bereft of the glory of the divine presence. Alas! How strange and pitiful; for a mere cupful, they have turned away from the billowing seas of the Most High, and remained far from the most effulgent horizon." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. P2.]

In the following Hidden Words Bahá'u'lláh also gives us some clues as to what we are doing wrong that we deprive ourselves of such wonderful gifts, especially in the form of "fancies and idle imaginings."

"O SON OF MAN! Many a day hath passed over thee whilst thou hast busied thyself with thy fancies and idle imaginings. How long art thou to slumber on thy bed? Lift up thy head from slumber, for the Sun hath risen to the zenith, haply it may shine upon thee with the light of beauty." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. A62.]

"O SON OF BOUNTY! 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. Out of My loving-kindness, 'neath the shade of My mercy I nurtured thee, and guarded thee by the essence of My grace and favor. And My purpose in all this was that thou mightest attain My everlasting dominion and become worthy of My invisible bestowals. And yet heedless thou didst remain, and when fully grown, thou didst neglect all My bounties and occupied thyself with thine idle imaginings, in such wise that thou didst become wholly forgetful, and, turning away from the portals of the Friend didst abide within the courts of My enemy." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. P29.]

If we want to escape the courts of His enemy, we had better look hard for those "portals" instead of becoming "forgetful" and turning away from them. Finally, in Hidden Word #79 from the Persian, Bahá'u'lláh makes it very clear that we can use the gifts He has given us for either good or ill, by giving us two examples: "wings" and the "comb". In these examples, He tells us the good use to which He had intended us to put them, uses that will indeed be to our benefit. He then mentions another possible use to which we can put them, uses which are to the detriment. The choice is ours.

"O SON OF DESIRE! How long wilt thou soar in the realms of desire? Wings have I bestowed upon thee, that thou mayest fly to the realms of mystic holiness and not the regions of satanic fancy. The comb, too, have I given thee that thou mayest dress My raven locks, and not lacerate My throat." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. P79.]

Suggested Topics For Discussion:

-- Discuss how idle fancies and vain imaginings get in our way
-- Reflect and ponder on Hidden Word # A13 as 'Abdu'l-Bahá recommends at the end of His interpretation of it, which was already presented
-- Discuss the Divine bestowals which Bahá'u'lláh has mentioned in the Hidden Words presented in this section that are conferred upon us and how we can safeguard these bounties so that we make the most of them and not lose them

Suggested Prayer:
    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 [ 'Abdu'l-Bahá, Bahá'í Prayers, 1991 ed., p. 37.]

VIRTUES:

WHAT WE NEED TO ACQUIRE AND WHAT WE NEED TO AVOID

One of the things we need to do in this world in order to prepare for the next world is to acquire virtues and perfections. The Hidden Words gives us many clues as to what are some of these virtues which we need to acquire. In fact, in Bahá'u'lláh's own Introduction to the Hidden Words, presented next, He tells us right out that one reason He has given us the Hidden Words and "clothed it in the garment of brevity," is so that "the righteous" may "in the realm of spirit obtain the gem of Divine virtue." He calls it a "gem"; can any of us really afford to refuse this precious gem?

"This is that which hath descended from the realm of glory, uttered by the tongue of power and might, and revealed unto the Prophets of old. We have taken the inner essence thereof and clothed it in the garment of brevity, as a token of grace unto the righteous, that they may stand faithful unto the Covenant of God, may fulfill in their lives His trust, and in the realm of spirit obtain the gem of Divine virtue."

And just what are some of these virtues we need to acquire? The following Hidden Words mention some of these virtues, such as "a pure, kindly and radiant heart," nobility, and "Justice".

"O SON OF SPIRIT! My first counsel is this: Possess a pure, kindly and radiant heart, that thine may be a sovereignty ancient, imperishable and everlasting." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. A1.]

"O SON OF SPIRIT! The best beloved of all things in My sight is Justice; turn not away therefrom if thou desirest Me, and neglect it not that I may confide in thee. By its aid thou shalt see with thine own eyes and not through the eyes of others, and shalt know of thine own knowledge and not through the knowledge of thy neighbor. Ponder this in thy heart; how it behooveth thee to be. Verily justice is My gift to thee and the sign of My loving-kindness. Set it then before thine eyes." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. A2.]

"O SON OF SPIRIT! Noble have I created thee, yet thou hast abased thyself. Rise then unto that for which thou wast created." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. A22.]

Two very important virtues to acquire are to be giving and generous as Bahá'u'lláh makes very clear in Hidden Word # 49 from the Persian, emphasizing His point by telling us "well is it with him that adorneth himself with My virtues."

This can also act as a reminder to us that Bahá'u'lláh indeed possessed all virtues; therefore, we know where to look for guidance.

"O CHILDREN OF DUST! Tell the rich of the midnight sighing of the poor, lest heedlessness lead them into the path of destruction, and deprive them of the Tree of Wealth. To give and to be generous are attributes of Mine; well is it with him that adorneth himself with My virtues."

Some of the vices which we need to avoid are mentioned next in the following Hidden Words, vices such as "envy", "vainglory," and "haughtiness." Indeed, envy is mentioned in two separate Hidden Words, with the warnings that it prevents us from attaining His "everlasting dominion," and by telling us that it is "innocent of envy," that we may "enter the divine court of holiness."

"O SON OF EARTH! Know, verily, the heart wherein the least remnant of envy yet lingers, shall never attain My everlasting dominion, nor inhale the sweet savors of holiness breathing from My kingdom of sanctity." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. P6.]

"O MY SERVANT! Purge thy heart from malice and, innocent of envy, enter the divine court of holiness." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. P42.]

"O CHILDREN OF DESIRE! Put away the garment of vainglory, and divest yourselves of the attire of haughtiness." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. P47.]

As the following Hidden Word, # 27 from the Arabic shows, we must be careful about finding fault with others as we are told in no uncertain terms: "Breathe not the sins of others".

"O SON OF MAN! Breathe not the sins of others so long as thou art thyself a sinner. Shouldst thou transgress this command, accursed wouldst thou be, and to this I bear witness."

The following Hidden Word, # 77 from the Persian, among other things, indicates how important are "faithfulness" and "fidelity."

'O SON OF JUSTICE! In the night-season the beauty of the immortal Being hath repaired from the emerald height of fidelity unto the Sadratu'l-Muntahá, and wept with such a weeping that the concourse on high and the dwellers of the realms above wailed at His lamenting. Whereupon there was asked, Why the wailing and weeping? He made reply: As bidden I waited expectant upon the hill of faithfulness, yet inhaled not from them that dwell on earth the fragrance of fidelity. Then summoned to return I beheld, and lo! certain doves of holiness were sore tried within the claws of the dogs of earth. Thereupon the Maid of heaven hastened forth unveiled and resplendent from Her mystic mansion, and asked of their names, and all were told but one. And when urged, the first letter thereof was uttered, whereupon the dwellers of the celestial chambers rushed forth out of their habitation of glory. And whilst the second letter was pronounced they fell down, one and all, upon the dust. At that moment a voice was heard from the inmost shrine: "Thus far and no farther." Verily We bear witness to that which they have done and now are doing.''

The next two Hidden Words gives us more information on what we need to do and how we need to be. We are told to "Humble" ourselves and to be "filled with the spirit of mercy," and He tells us what benefits we can expect by doing so.

"O SON OF MAN! Humble thyself before Me, that I may graciously visit thee. Arise for the triumph of My cause, that while yet on earth thou mayest obtain the victory." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. A42.]

"O SON OF SPIRIT! Burst thy cage asunder, and even as the phoenix of love soar into the firmament of holiness. Renounce thyself and, filled with the spirit of mercy, abide in the realm of celestial sanctity." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. P38.]

In the next Hidden Word, # 50 from the Persian, we are told what to "put away" and what to "seek" and why.

"O QUINTESSENCE OF PASSION! Put away all covetousness and seek contentment; for the covetous hath ever been deprived, and the contented hath ever been loved and praised."

In the following two Hidden Words, Bahá'u'lláh mentions the importance of "detachment" and again mentions the heart telling us to "plant naught but the rose of love" therein.

"O FRIEND! In the garden of thy heart plant naught but the rose of love, and from the nightingale of affection and desire loosen not thy hold. Treasure the companionship of the righteous and eschew all fellowship with the ungodly." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. P3.]

"O SON OF PASSION! Cleanse thyself from the defilement of riches and in perfect peace advance into the realm of poverty; that from the well-spring of detachment thou mayest quaff the wine of immortal life." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. P55.]

Suggested Topics for Discussion:

-- Discuss the benefits that are obtained for us and others in this world when we work hard at acquiring these virtues.
-- Discuss the importance of acquiring these virtues out of love for God rather than fear of Him.
-- Discuss what this "cage" may be that we are to "burst asunder" mentioned in Hidden Word # 38 from the Persian.

Suggested Prayer:
    O my God! O my God! Verily, these servants are turning to Thee, supplicating Thy kingdom of mercy. Verily, they are attracted by Thy holiness and set aglow with the fire of Thy love, seeking confirmation from Thy wondrous kingdom, and hoping for attainment in Thy heavenly realm. Verily, they long for the descent of Thy bestowal, desiring illumination from the Sun of Reality. O Lord! Make them radiant lamps, merciful signs, fruitful trees and shining stars. May they come forth in Thy service and be connected with Thee by the bonds and ties of Thy love, longing for the lights of Thy favor. O Lord! Make them signs of guidance, standards of Thine immortal kingdom, waves of the sea of Thy mercy, mirrors of the light of Thy majesty.
    Verily, Thou art the Generous. Verily, Thou art the Merciful. Verily, Thou art the Precious, the Beloved. --'Abdu'l-Bahá ['Abdu'l-Bahá, Bahá'í Prayers, 1991 ed., pp. 112-113.] [+CHAPTER7]

TESTS AND DIFFICULTIES

Tests and difficulties are a part of everyone's life whether we like it or not. If, however, we approach them with the understanding that God sends us tests and difficulties for our own sakes, to benefit us spiritually, as is pointed out in the Arabic Hidden Word # 51 which follows, they will be easier to bear. Indeed, if we look for and can recognize the "light and mercy" contained in these calamities with which we are afflicted, it will be easier to get through the seeming "fire and vengeance" part of them, and to even be thankful for the test which yielded that "light and mercy".

"O SON OF MAN! My calamity is My providence, outwardly it is fire and vengeance, but inwardly it is light and mercy. Hasten thereunto that thou mayest become an eternal light and an immortal spirit. This is My command unto thee, do thou observe it."

Indeed, Bahá'u'lláh tells us to "Hasten thereunto" and that, by doing so, we can "become an eternal light and an immortal spirit." Isn't that worth a little pain and trouble?

In the next three Hidden Words, observe how Bahá'u'lláh associates love with trials, tribulation and adversity.

"O SON OF MAN! For everything there is a sign. The sign of love is fortitude under My decree and patience under My trials." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. A48.]

"O SON OF MAN! The true lover yearneth for tribulation even as doth the rebel for forgiveness and the sinful for mercy." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. A49.]

"O SON OF MAN! If adversity befall thee not in My path, how canst thou walk in the ways of them that are content with My pleasure? If trials afflict thee not in thy longing to meet Me, how wilt thou attain the light in thy love for My beauty?" [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. A50.]

As you can see, trials, tribulation and adversity also enable us to show our love in "fortitude" and "patience" and to show that we are "content with" His "pleasure." After all, it is easy to show love and contentment when things are going well for us. It is through affliction that we can show our true devotion and dedication to God.

As you can see from the next Hidden Word presented below, # 55 from the Arabic, some tests can even seem pleasant on the outside, such as wealth. Don't be overconfident, though, thinking that this may be a reward and not a test at all. Bahá'u'lláh tells us straight out that this, too, is a test. He says: "with gold We test Our servants."

"O SON OF BEING! Busy not thyself with this world, for with fire We test the gold, and with gold We test Our servants." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. A55.]

Indeed, we will all be "tested by "the divine Assayer," and we want to be of those "accepted." It would be greatly to our detriment to be one of those "SEEMING FAIR YET INWARDLY FOUL" people addressed by Bahá'u'lláh in Persian Hidden Word # 25, which is presented next.

"O YE SEEMING FAIR YET INWARDLY FOUL! Ye are like clear but bitter water, which to outward seeming is crystal pure but of which, when tested by the divine Assayer, not a drop is accepted. Yea, the sun beam falls alike upon the dust and the mirror, yet differ they in reflection even as doth the star from the earth: nay, immeasurable is the difference!" [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. P25.]

Bahá'u'lláh again mentions how our deeds will be tested by "the assayers of mankind" and tells us the only ways they will be accepted in the following two Hidden Words.

"O MY FRIENDS! Quench ye the lamp of error, and kindle within your hearts the everlasting torch of divine guidance. For ere long the assayers of mankind shall, in the holy presence of the Adored, accept naught but purest virtue and deeds of stainless holiness." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. P35.]

"O CHILDREN OF ADAM! Holy words and pure and goodly deeds ascend unto the heaven of celestial glory. Strive that your deeds may be cleansed from the dust of self and hypocrisy and find favor at the court of glory; for ere long the assayers of mankind shall, in the holy presence of the Adored One, accept naught but absolute virtue and deeds of stainless purity. This is the daystar of wisdom and of divine mystery that hath shone above the horizon of the divine will. Blessed are they that turn thereunto." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. P69.]

Suggested Topics for Discussion:

-- Discuss what the "test" may be in "gold"
-- Discuss the relationship of tests and difficulties to our love for God
-- Discuss how people's conceptions of what constitutes a "test" can differ
-- Discuss how one's whole life can be a test and how we find out whether or not we passed

Suggested Prayer:
   I adjure Thee by Thy might, O my God! Let no harm beset me in times of tests, and in moments of heedlessness guide my steps aright through Thine inspiration. Thou art God, potent art Thou to do what Thou desirest. No one can withstand Thy Will or thwart Thy Purpose. --The Báb [The Báb, Bahá'í Prayers, 1982 ed. p. 29.]

IDLE FANCIES AND VAIN IMAGINATIONS

Bahá'u'lláh has often warned us against giving into idle fancies and vain imaginations, which can lead to spiritual blindness and heedlessness of our duty to God. In the following Hidden Words He tells us of some benefits from freeing ourselves of these things. He says:

"O SON OF MAN! Many a day hath passed over thee whilst thou hast busied thyself with thy fancies and idle imaginings. How long art thou to slumber on thy bed? Lift up thy head from slumber, for the Sun hath risen to the zenith, haply it may shine upon thee with the light of beauty." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. A62.]

"O SON OF MAN! The light hath shone on thee from the horizon of the sacred Mount and the spirit of enlightenment hath breathed in the Sinai of thy heart. Wherefore, free thyself from the veils of idle fancies and enter into My court, that thou mayest be fit for everlasting life and worthy to meet Me. Thus may death not come upon thee, neither weariness nor trouble." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. A63.]

In the Hidden Words, Bahá'u'lláh also gives us some specific issues in which we may have a tendency to involve in our fancy or imagination, issues such as "gold" and our own "negligence," as is demonstrated in the two Hidden Words presented next. He says:

"O SON OF MAN! Thou dost wish for gold and I desire thy freedom from it. Thou thinkest thyself rich in its possession, and I recognize thy wealth in thy sanctity therefrom. By My life! This is My knowledge, and that is thy fancy; how can My way accord with thine?" [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. A56.]

"O DWELLERS IN THE CITY OF LOVE! Mortal blasts have beset the everlasting candle, and the beauty of the celestial Youth is veiled in the darkness of dust. The chief of the monarchs of love is wronged by the people of tyranny and the dove of holiness lies prisoned in the talons of owls. The dwellers in the pavilion of glory and the celestial concourse bewail and lament, while ye repose in the realm of negligence, and esteem yourselves as of the true friends. How vain are your imaginings!" [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. P23.]

In the next two Hidden Words presented, we are warned against "satanic fancies". Wouldn't it be better and more profitable for us to instead "fly to the realms of mystic holiness"?

"ALAS! ALAS! O LOVERS OF WORLDLY DESIRE! Even as the swiftness of lightning ye have passed by the Beloved One, and have set your hearts on satanic fancies. Ye bow the knee before your vain imagining, and call it truth. Ye turn your eyes towards the thorn, and name it a flower. Not a pure breath have ye breathed, nor hath the breeze of detachment been wafted from the meadows of your hearts. Ye have cast to the winds the loving counsels of the Beloved and have effaced them utterly from the tablet of your hearts, and even as the beasts of the field, ye move and have your being within the pastures of desire and passion." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. P45.]

"O SON OF DESIRE! How long wilt thou soar in the realms of desire? Wings have I bestowed upon thee, that thou mayest fly to the realms of mystic holiness and not the regions of satanic fancy. The comb, too, have I given thee that thou mayest dress My raven locks, and not lacerate My throat." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. P79.]

In the last Hidden Word presented on this subject, # 29 from the Persian, we are told of the many gifts and bounties with which we are showered, and told how, because of our "idle imaginings," we became "wholly forgetful, and, turning away from the portals of the Friend didst abide within the courts of My enemy."

"O SON OF BOUNTY! 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. Out of My loving-kindness, 'neath the shade of My mercy I nurtured thee, and guarded thee by the essence of My grace and favor. And My purpose in all this was that thou mightest attain My everlasting dominion and become worthy of My invisible bestowals. And yet heedless thou didst remain, and when fully grown, thou didst neglect all My bounties and occupied thyself with thine idle imaginings, in such wise that thou didst become wholly forgetful, and, turning away from the portals of the Friend didst abide within the courts of My enemy."

Suggested Topics For Discussion:

--Discuss how idle fancies and vain imaginings can veil a person from God's Truth
--Discuss how idle fancies and vain imaginings can lead to negligence
--Discuss the harm that has been done in the world due to the idle fancies and vain imaginings of people who hold a position of power

Suggested Prayer:
    O God, my God! Thou art my Hope and my Beloved, my highest Aim and Desire! With great humbleness and entire devotion I pray to Thee to make me a minaret of Thy love in Thy land, a lamp of Thy knowledge among Thy creatures, and a banner of divine bounty in Thy dominion.
   Number me with such of Thy servants as have detached themselves from everything but Thee, have sanctified themselves from the transitory things of this world, and have freed themselves from the promptings of the voicers of idle fancies.
    Let my heart be dilated with joy through the spirit of confirmation from Thy kingdom, and brighten my eyes by beholding the hosts of divine assistance descending successively upon me from the kingdom of Thine omnipotent glory.
    Thou art, in truth, the Almighty, the All-Glorious,the All-Powerful. --'Abdu'l-Bahá ['Abdu'l-Bahá, Bahá'í Prayers, 1991 ed., pp. 57-58.] [+CHAPTER8]

THE PURGING OF SELF

"O MY SERVANT! Thou art even as a finely tempered sword concealed in the darkness of its sheath and its value hidden from the artificer's knowledge. Wherefore come forth from the sheath of self and desire that thy worth may be made resplendent and manifest unto all the world." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. P72.]

We are made in God's image and likeness. Sometimes, though, the self can obscure His beauty in us. In the preceding Hidden Word, Bahá'u'lláh tells us of our true worth and also how to make that worth "resplendent and manifest"; we must "come forth from the sheath of self and desire". Note that He says "self and desire" and not just "desire".

In the following two Hidden Words, Bahá'u'lláh again emphasizes this by telling us "turn away from thyself", and by associating this with our love for Him. He also states plainly "There is no peace for thee save by renouncing thyself and turning unto Me".

"O SON OF MAN! If thou lovest Me, turn away from thyself; and if thou seekest My pleasure, regard not thine own; that thou mayest die in Me and I may eternally live in thee." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. A7.]

"O SON OF SPIRIT! There is no peace for thee save by renouncing thyself and turning unto Me; for it behooveth thee to glory in My name, not in thine own; to put thy trust in Me and not in thyself, since I desire to be loved alone and above all that is." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. A8.]

In the next two Hidden Words, Bahá'u'lláh makes it clear how dangerous the self can be, calling it a "contrary wind" and saying that it has the power to put out "the candle" of our hearts. He also warns that we can "remain so wrapt in the veil of self," that we miss out on a gift which we have been given "without search" and indeed "without the least effort", a gift which "The learned and the wise have for long years striven and failed to attain". These warnings are not ones that we should take lightly.

"O BEFRIENDED STRANGER! The candle of thine heart is lighted by the hand of My power, quench it not with the contrary winds of self and passion. The healer of all thine ills is remembrance of Me, forget it not. Make My love thy treasure and cherish it even as thy very sight and life." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. P32.]

"O SON OF DESIRE! The learned and the wise have for long years striven and failed to attain the presence of the All-Glorious; they have spent their lives in search of Him, yet did not behold the beauty of His countenance. Thou without the least effort didst attain thy goal, and without search hast obtained the object of thy quest. Yet, notwithstanding, thou didst remain so wrapt in the veil of self, that thine eyes beheld not the beauty of the Beloved, nor did thy hand touch the hem of His robe. Ye that have eyes, behold and wonder." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. P22.]

Purging of the self does have its rewards. As the next two Hidden Words demonstrate, the rewards of renouncing ourselves and cleansing our deeds "from the dust of self and hypocrisy" should yield the rewards of abiding "in the realm of celestial sanctity" and of having our deeds "find favor at the court of glory". Just as we should not take His warnings lightly, neither should we undervalue His promised favors. Wouldn't it be best for us to be one of those "blessed" ones "that turn thereunto"?

"O SON OF SPIRIT! Burst thy cage asunder, and even as the phoenix of love soar into the firmament of holiness. Renounce thyself and, filled with the spirit of mercy, abide in the realm of celestial sanctity." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. P38.]

"O CHILDREN OF ADAM! Holy words and pure and goodly deeds ascend unto the heaven of celestial glory. Strive that your deeds may be cleansed from the dust of self and hypocrisy and find favor at the court of glory; for ere long the assayers of mankind shall, in the holy presence of the Adored One, accept naught but absolute virtue and deeds of stainless purity. This is the daystar of wisdom and of divine mystery that hath shone above the horizon of the divine will. Blessed are they that turn thereunto." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. P69.]

While our souls are immortal and we do have all eternity in which to progress, still our time in this world to progress as we need to and learn what we need to learn here is limited. Listen to the warning Bahá'u'lláh gives us in Persian Hidden Word # 40, which follows.

"O MY SERVANT! Free thyself from the fetters of this world, and loose thy soul from the prison of self. Seize thy chance, for it will come to thee no more."

To "free" ourselves "from the fetters of this world" and to "loose" our souls from the "prison of self" is no easy task, but Bahá'u'lláh gives us a place to start in Hidden Word # 38 from the Arabic:

"O SON OF BEING! Walk in My statutes for love of Me and deny thyself that which thou desirest if thou seekest My pleasure."

Bahá'u'lláh continues His advice with the next two Hidden Words, which are presented below.

"O SON OF MAN! Neglect not My commandments if thou lovest My beauty, and forget not My counsels if thou wouldst attain My good pleasure." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. A39.]

"O SON OF MAN! Wert thou to speed through the immensity of space and traverse the expanse of heaven, yet thou wouldst find no rest save in submission to Our command and humbleness before Our Face." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. A40.]

He continues to talk about humbleness and its rewards in Arabic Hidden Word # 42:

"O SON OF MAN! Humble thyself before Me, that I may graciously visit thee. Arise for the triumph of My cause, that while yet on earth thou mayest obtain the victory."

Suggested Topics for Discussion:

-- Discuss the importance Bahá'u'lláh attaches to obeying His commandments out of love
-- Discuss the personal benefits of becoming less self-centered and more God-centered
-- Discuss the relationship of "self" to "desire" and "passion"

Suggested Prayer:
    He is the All-Glorious!
    O God, my God! Lowly and tearful, I raise my suppliant hands to Thee and cover my face in the dust of that Threshold of Thine, exalted above the knowledge of the learned, and the praise of all that glorify Thee. Graciously look upon Thy servant, humble and lowly at Thy door, with the glances of the eye of Thy mercy, and immerse him in the Ocean of Thine eternal grace.
    Lord! He is a poor and lowly servant of Thine, enthralled and imploring Thee, captive in Thy hand, praying fervently to Thee, trusting in Thee, in tears before Thy face, calling to Thee and beseeching Thee, saying: O Lord, my God! Give me Thy grace to serve Thy loved ones, strengthen me in my servitude to Thee, illumine my brow with the light of adoration in Thy court of holiness, and of prayer to Thy kingdom of grandeur. Help me to be selfless at the heavenly entrance of Thy gate, and aid me to be detached from all things within Thy holy precincts. Lord! Give me to drink from the chalice of selflessness; with its robe clothe me, and in its ocean immerse me. Make me as dust in the pathway of Thy loved ones, and grant that I may offer up my soul for the earth ennobled by the footsteps of Thy chosen ones in Thy path, O Lord of Glory in the Highest. With this prayer doth Thy servant call Thee, at dawntide and in the night-season. Fulfill his heart's desire, O Lord! Illumine his heart, gladden his bosom, kindle his light, that he may serve Thy Cause and Thy servants.
    Thou art the Bestower, the Pitiful, the Most Bountiful, the Gracious, the Merciful, the Compassionate. --'Abdu'l-Bahá [ 'Abdu'l-Bahá, Bahá'í Prayers, 1991 ed., pp. 234-235.]

PURITY OF HEART

Bahá'u'lláh makes it plain in the Hidden Words that the heart of a person is a very special place and nust be kept in a state of utmost purity. Indeed, as He plainly states in the following three Hidden Words, the human heart is where He resides.

"O SON OF DUST! All that is in heaven and earth I have ordained for thee, except the human heart, which I have made the habitation of My beauty and glory; yet thou didst give My home and dwelling to another than Me; and whenever the manifestation of My holiness sought His own abode, a stranger found He there, and, homeless, hastened unto the sanctuary of the Beloved. Notwithstanding I have concealed thy secret and desired not thy shame." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. P27.]

"O CHILDREN OF NEGLIGENCE AND PASSION! Ye have suffered My enemy to enter My house and have cast out My friend, for ye have enshrined the love of another than Me in your hearts. Give ear to the sayings of the Friend and turn towards His paradise. Worldly friends, seeking their own good, appear to love one the other, whereas the true Friend hath loved and doth love you for your own sakes; indeed He hath suffered for your guidance countless afflictions. Be not disloyal to such a Friend, nay rather hasten unto Him. Such is the daystar of the word of truth and faithfulness, that hath dawned above the horizon of the pen of the Lord of all names. Open your ears that ye may hearken unto the word of God, the Help in peril, the Self-existent." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. P52.]

"O SON OF BEING! Thy heart is My home; sanctify it for My descent. Thy spirit is My place of revelation; cleanse it for My manifestation." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. A59.]

'Abdu'l-Bahá gives us His interpretation of the above Hidden Word, #A59. Since His interpretation can be the only valid one, it is now presented here:

'Bahá'u'lláh proclaims in the Hidden Words that God inspires His servants and is revealed through them. He says, "Thy heart is My home; sanctify it for My descent. Thy spirit is My place of revelation; cleanse it for My manifestation." Therefore, we learn that nearness to God is possible through devotion to Him, through entrance into the Kingdom and service to humanity; it is attained by unity with mankind and through loving-kindness to all; it is dependent upon investigation of truth, acquisition of praiseworthy virtues, service in the cause of universal peace and personal sanctification. In a word, nearness to God necessitates sacrifice of self, severance and the giving up of all to Him. Nearness is likeness.' ['Abdu'l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 148.]

The only things "in heaven and earth" that God reserves for Himself alone are our hearts, which He describes as His "home." With all that He has given us, is it too much to reserve our hearts for Him, to "enshrine" the love for God in our hearts so that He may reside there? And we are the ones who benefit; for we are "sanctify"ing it for His descent. What better way to have God in our lives than to have Him always in our hearts? Since the closer we are to God the happier we are, we are the ones who really benefit from this relationship. Notice how in the next Hidden Word, the first one revealed in Arabic, Bahá'u'lláh links "sovereignty" with "a pure, kindly and radiant heart." It also seems significant that possessing "a pure, kindly and radiant heart" is given the prominence of being His "first counsel."

"O SON OF SPIRIT! My first counsel is this: Possess a pure, kindly and radiant heart, that thine may be a sovereignty ancient, imperishable and everlasting." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. A1.]

Indeed, Bahá'u'lláh makes it clear in the next two Hidden Words that there is only room for one in our hearts and that One should be Him.

"O MY FRIEND IN WORD! Ponder awhile. Hast thou ever heard that friend and foe should abide in one heart? Cast out then the stranger, that the Friend may enter His home." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. P26.]

"O SON OF EARTH! Wouldst thou have Me, seek none other than Me; and wouldst thou gaze upon My beauty, close thine eyes to the world and all that is therein; for My will and the will of another than Me, even as fire and water, cannot dwell together in one heart." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. P31.]

Notice the great similarity between the next two Hidden Words. Bahá'u'lláh repeats Himself almost word for word. There may be a special significance to them that He revealed their message twice.

"O MY BROTHER! Hearken to the delightsome words of My honeyed tongue, and quaff the stream of mystic holiness from My sugar-shedding lips. Sow the seeds of My divine wisdom in the pure soil of thy heart, and water them with the water of certitude, that the hyacinths of My knowledge and wisdom may spring up fresh and green in the sacred city of thy heart." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. P33.]

"O SON OF MY HANDMAID! Quaff from the tongue of the merciful the stream of divine mystery, and behold from the dayspring of divine utterance the unveiled splendor of the daystar of wisdom. Sow the seeds of My divine wisdom in the pure soil of the heart, and water them with the waters of certitude, that the hyacinths of knowledge and wisdom may spring up fresh and green from the holy city of the heart." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. P78.]

He also gives us some instructions on how to purify our hearts. Bahá'u'lláh says:

"O SON OF GLORY! Be swift in the path of holiness, and enter the heaven of communion with Me. Cleanse thy heart with the burnish of the spirit, and hasten to the court of the Most High." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. P8.]

"O MY SERVANT! Purge thy heart from malice and, innocent of envy, enter the divine court of holiness." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. P42.]

"O COMPANION OF MY THRONE! Hear no evil, and see no evil, abase not thyself, neither sigh and weep. Speak no evil, that thou mayest not hear it spoken unto thee, and magnify not the faults of others that thine own faults may not appear great; and wish not the abasement of anyone, that thine own abasement be not exposed. Live then the days of thy life, that are less than a fleeting moment, with thy mind stainless, thy heart unsullied, thy thoughts pure, and thy nature sanctified, so that, free and content, thou mayest put away this mortal frame, and repair unto the mystic paradise and abide in the eternal kingdom for evermore." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. P44.]

"O MY FRIENDS! Quench ye the lamp of error, and kindle within your hearts the everlasting torch of divine guidance. For ere long the assayers of mankind shall, in the holy presence of the Adored, accept naught but purest virtue and deeds of stainless holiness." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. P35.]

"O MY SON! The company of the ungodly increaseth sorrow, whilst fellowship with the righteous cleanseth the rust from off the heart. He that seeketh to commune with God, let him betake himself to the companionship of His loved ones; and he that desireth to hearken unto the word of God, let him give ear to the words of His chosen ones." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. P56.]

"O SON OF DUST! The wise are they that speak not unless they obtain a hearing, even as the cup-bearer, who proffereth not his cup till he findeth a seeker, and the lover who crieth not out from the depths of his heart until he gazeth upon the beauty of his beloved. Wherefore sow the seeds of wisdom and knowledge in the pure soil of the heart, and keep them hidden, till the hyacinths of divine wisdom spring from the heart and not from mire and clay." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. P36.]

Bahá'u'lláh tells us to "Cleanse thy heart with the burnish of the spirit," and to "Purge thy heart from malice" and to "kindle within your hearts the everlasting torch of divine guidance." and to "Live then the days of thy life, ... with ... thy heart unsullied," and to "sow the seeds of wisdom and knowledge in the pure soil of the heart". He then tells us some of the advantages of doing these things. Thereby, we can "hasten to the court of the Most High," and "enter the divine court of holiness, " and "free and content, ... mayest put away this mortal frame, and repair unto the mystic paradise and abide in the eternal kingdom for evermore," and that"fellowship with the righteous cleanseth the rust from off the heart," and have "the hyacinths of divine wisdom spring from the heart and not from mire and clay." The next Hidden Word demonstrates an advantage for the "righteous," that they have the power to "quicken and illumine the hearts of the dead." What a gift to be able to give our fellow human beings! Bahá'u'lláh says:

"O SON OF MY HANDMAID! Wouldst thou seek the grace of the Holy Spirit, enter into fellowship with the righteous, for he hath drunk the cup of eternal life at the hands of the immortal Cup-bearer and even as the true morn doth quicken and illumine the hearts of the dead." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. P58.]

In the next Hidden Word, # 10 from the Persian, Bahá'u'lláh warns us of the consequences of possessing a "lifeless heart." Wouldn't it be much more profitable to us and better to "sanctify it for" His "descent."

"O SON OF DESIRE! Give ear unto this: Never shall mortal eye recognize the everlasting Beauty, nor the lifeless heart delight in aught but in the withered bloom. For like seeketh like, and taketh pleasure in the company of its kind."

and He also warns us in the next Hidden Word of the danger of turning "the radiance of the heart into infernal fire."

"O SON OF DUST! Beware! Walk not with the ungodly and seek not fellowship with him, for such companionship turneth the radiance of the heart into infernal fire." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. P57.]

Don't think we can fool God into thinking we possess a pure heart when in reality it is sullied; we cannot hide anything from Him, as is demonstrated in the next three Hidden Words.

"O YE SEEMING FAIR YET INWARDLY FOUL! Ye are like clear but bitter water, which to outward seeming is crystal pure but of which, when tested by the divine Assayer, not a drop is accepted. Yea, the sun beam falls alike upon the dust and the mirror, yet differ they in reflection even as doth the star from the earth: nay, immeasurable is the difference!" [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. P25.]

"O HEEDLESS ONES! Think not the secrets of hearts are hidden, nay, know ye of a certainty that in clear characters they are engraved and are openly manifest in the holy Presence." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. P59.]

"O FRIENDS! Verily I say, whatsoever ye have concealed within your hearts is to Us open and manifest as the day; but that it is hidden is of Our grace and favor, and not of your deserving." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. P60.]

Indeed, in the next two Hidden Words, Bahá'u'lláh comments on how "the loving counsels of the Beloved" have been "effaced ... utterly from the tablet of your hearts" and that "none but the smallest handful hath been found with a pure heart and sanctified spirit."

"O COMRADES! The gates that open on the Placeless stand wide and the habitation of the loved one is adorned with the lovers' blood, yet all but a few remain bereft of this celestial city, and even of these few, none but the smallest handful hath been found with a pure heart and sanctified spirit." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. P17.]

"ALAS! ALAS! O LOVERS OF WORLDLY DESIRE! Even as the swiftness of lightning ye have passed by the Beloved One, and have set your hearts on satanic fancies. Ye bow the knee before your vain imagining, and call it truth. Ye turn your eyes towards the thorn, and name it a flower. Not a pure breath have ye breathed, nor hath the breeze of detachment been wafted from the meadows of your hearts. Ye have cast to the winds the loving counsels of the Beloved and have effaced them utterly from the tablet of your hearts, and even as the beasts of the field, ye move and have your being within the pastures of desire and passion." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. P45.]

Finally, for anyone who wishes to see if their own heart is pure, Bahá'u'lláh has given us the following Hidden Word, taken from the Persian, # 41.

"O SON OF MY HANDMAID! Didst thou behold immortal sovereignty, thou wouldst strive to pass from this fleeting world. But to conceal the one from thee and to reveal the other is a mystery which none but the pure in heart can comprehend."

Suggested Topics for Discussion:

-- Discuss the significance of Bahá'u'lláh linking "sovereignty" with "a pure, kindly and radiant heart." in Hidden Word # A1.
-- Try to come up with as many spiritual qualities as possible that would be necessary to possess in order to have a pure heart.
-- Discuss ways we can, as individuals, purify and sanctify our hearts.
-- Discuss ways both Bahá'í institutions and other individuals can help the individual to purify his heart.
-- Discuss what may be the significance of Bahá'u'lláh revealing 2 Hidden Words that are almost word for word identical, as in P33 & P78. Note: It is recommended that you do not try to analyze Persian Hidden Word # 41 as a group, but to rather suggest that its meaning(s) be contemplated individually and privately.

Suggested Prayer:
    Create in me a pure heart, O my God, and renew a tranquil conscience within me, O my Hope! Through the spirit of power confirm Thou me in Thy Cause, O my Best-Beloved, and by the light of Thy glory reveal unto me Thy path, O Thou the Goal of my desire! Through the power of Thy transcendent might lift me up unto the heaven of Thy holiness, O Source of my being, and by the breezes of Thine eternity gladden me, O Thou Who art my God! Let Thine everlasting melodies breathe tranquillity on me, O my Companion, and let the riches of Thine ancient countenance deliver me from all except Thee, O my Master, and let the tidings of the revelation of Thine incorruptible Essence bring me joy, O Thou Who art the most manifest of the manifest and the most hidden of the hidden! --Bahá'u'lláh [ Bahá'u'lláh, Bahá'í Prayers, 1991 ed., pp.142-143]

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