THESE TABLETS ARE a fountain of heavenly love and joy, of wisdom and power. In
every volume, the ceaseless, the boundless Love of God pours forth like wine
into a thousand different vessels: changing its form, taking the shape of many
occasions, filling exactly many needs, but never changing the exquisiteness of
its beauty. Love, spontaneous and unstinted, floods every utterance of thought.
There is no check, no limit. The days when these letters were written were
early days, the days of the first meetings of Lovers and Beloved, the days of
God's welcome to the first believers of the western world.
"This is the time of happiness, the day of rejoicing and of delight."
(p. 320.) " With a heart overflowing with the love of God, pray to God
in all joy and give Him thanks for this guidance this high gift. Could those who
receive these letters but realise the joy with which they are written, they
would lift up their hearts and in spirit soar heavenward in exaltation," He
writes. 'Abdu'l-Bahá at the time of writing these letters was in prison.
He was misrepresented, humiliated, frustrated; His life was in danger;
difficulties had to be met every hour. Yet no personal distress affects for a
moment in the least degree His inward peace of heart or weakens the delight of
His fellowship with those who begin to share His love for God.
Whatever sorrow there be in these pages is not for Himself but is through the
intensity of His sympathy with the griefs of those to whom He writes. His
heart "is filled with the Love of God, is free and isolated from all save God,
is illumined and overflowing with the bounties of the Kingdom of
El-Abhá." (p. 713) "Verily, I am the servant of
Bahá'u'lláh, the bond slave of Bahá'u'lláh, the
captive of Bahá'u'lláh. I have no grade but this and I do not
possess anything for myself." (p. 603)
A power from on high animates Him: the Holy Spirit moves His limbs, His pen. To
suffer for God's Sake to drink the cup of
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Sacrifice is His "utmost hope, the joy of my heart, the consolation of my
soul and my final desire."
Again and again He rejects commiseration offered on account of His calamities
and afflictions. They are not calamities, but bounties, they are not
afflictions but gifts; not hardships, but tranquillity; not trouble, but mercy;
and we thank God for this great favour."
(p. 128.) He asserts His
independence of all His enemies can do to harm Him.
"I am free,"
he writes, "though I should remain in prison; all
fortresses and castles cannot confine me, and the dungeon cannot bring me under
the narrow bondage of the world. The spirit is ever soaring, even if the body
be in the depths ... Therefore, neither the prison is a cause of sorrow, nor
freedom from it a source of joy."
These letters fill hundreds of printed pages. Each correspondent is addressed
by some special spiritual title chosen by 'Abdu'l-Bahá for him or for
her, personally, as, "Thou Who Art Turning to the Divine Kingdom... Thou
Candle of the Love of God," "Thou Servant of God," "Thou Opened Rose in the
Garden of Abhá," "Thou Who Art Awakened to the Cause of God," "Thou
Worshipper of Truth," "Thou Servant of Humanity," "Thou Who Art Yearning for
the Glad Tidings of God."
He deals with diverse problems; answers countless questions about the past and
the present, about Revelation, about Christianity, about social life, the life
of the home, about marriage and children. He sets forth the cause of God and
its administration. He exposes the error and the evil of the times. He
comforts, counsels, commands, urges; He chants praises of God and of His
faithful ones. Whatever the subject, whatever the occasion, whatever the need,
the same divine might of His creative love calls into action the awakening
spirit of the people of the West. His heart, He writes (p. 60), overflows with
gladness and exultation as He reads the letters of the beloved of God whose
eyes are enlightened by God, whose hearts and consciences are purified by
knowledge and love of God and who have found peace of soul through the
commemoration of God.
He remembers them at all times, prays for them every morn
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and eve (p. 113) "Do not think that ye are forgotten for one moment"
593). "Trust thou in the love of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, for verily nothing
If for any reason letters do not reach Him He misses them and life and
conscience do not find happiness and joy. (p. 375). Yet important and dearly
cherished as letters are He is in close and living touch
with the faithful in spite of distance, in spite of interruption in
correspondence. Time and place do not control the Spirit nor the inwardness of
spiritual realities: geographical remoteness from a heavenly centre will not
obscure the vision of its glory. "When the Spirit is breathed in the East
its signs immediately appear in the West, and it hath a spiritual dominion
which penetrates the pillars of the world."
(p. 289.) If the friends be
firm in the cause of God and in His service, spiritual letters come down to
them from the Kingdom of Abhá. Their descent is according to an eternal
law; their movement is like that of wave following wave and they bear tidings
of the unity of God. The love of 'Abdu'l-Bahá for His faithful friends
is itself another and a special messenger between them. If a human heart be
truly sensitive to the call of God, then there is stretched between its centre
and the centre of the Kingdom a connection through which the spirit sends its
messages. Every faithful loving heart is endued with this means of communion.
(pp. 787, 628.)
'Abdu'l-Bahá is spiritually present with the faithful at their meetings
and is their protector, "spreading His wings over them."
In phrase after phrase, passage after passage challenging, rigorous, profound,
He tells of the transcendent unimagined imperishable splendour of the
Abhá Kingdom they are entering. (p. 289.)
"O maidservant of God! Every star hath a setting but the star of knowledge
of God in the Divine heaven; every light shall darken save the light of the
guidance of God, every glory shall vanish away save the glory under the shadow
of the word of God."
(p. 129.) He calls on the beloved (pp. 411-2) to seize
the opportunity God's mercy offers them -- "Truly I say unto you, this is a
gift which neither the dominion of the world, nor all the riches of its
nor the glory of its distinguished men, can rival in this resplendent
century and new age; inasmuch as crowns are transient but this is eternal and
will never be taken away.""In this material world nothing hath any result, even
if it be dominion over the East and the West. But that which hath an immortal
result is servitude in the Holy Threshold, service which is rendered to the
Kingdom of God. and which gives guidance to all on the earth
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424.) "O beloved of God! Know ye that the world is like unto a mirage which
the thirsty one thinks to be water . . . Leave it to its people and turn unto
the Kingdom of your Lord, the merciful."
He pours His blessing upon them. "Blessed are ye, O stars that shine with
the light of the love of God! Blessed are ye, O lamps that burn with the fire
of love of God. Blessed are ye whose hearts are drawn to the Kingdom. Glad
tidings to you who are severed from all save God .... Glad tidings to you
through the gift of the Covenant... Rejoice ... Be glad ... Lift up your hearts
.. Let your eyes be solaced by the vision of the bounties of the spiritual
"The cup of knowledge is floating over, blessed are they who drink of it
deeply! . . . The gates of heaven are open, blessed are they who see. The hosts
of heaven stand in battle-array-what joy to them who win the victory. The
trumpet of life is sounding - how glad the ears of them that hear!"
621.) He calls on them again and again to realise the supreme privilege which
is vouchsafed them by the mercy of God, and to pour forth every kind of praise
to Him for ever from grateful, happy, radiant hearts. (pp. 182, 259, 413, 594,
There is a note of warning, too: "The time is short, and the Divine Courser
moves swiftly on."
(p. 406.) To those who complain the path to the Kingdom
is hard, obstacles many, difficulties severe; who are
perplexed, burdened, discouraged, He says such trials are to be expected.
Earthly aims are not won without effort and perseverance, and obstacles to
these great spiritual attainments naturally are greater still.
Through steadfastness in overcoming these trials, the soul of the believer is
brought nearer to God and at last reaches the condition of knowledge and
assurance. As Nature, having borne with
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patience the lightning and thunderbolts and storms of winters, is afterwards
rewarded with the season of blossoms, flowers and fruits; so in the Kingdom of
heaven the storms of trials give a constant heart the means of earning the good
pleasure of God and the prizes of the Kingdom.
How extreme in times long past were the troubles of the lovers of Christ. Yet
their courage was proof, and their reward was eternal life and everlasting
If tests are severe, it is that they may expose the weakness of those who are
unworthy, and enable every true hearted soul to "shine from the horizon of
the Most Great Guidance."
To any such soul tests, however violent, are a
gift from God, the Exalted, and He hastens towards them with joy and gladness,
for they will cleanse him of those imperfections that keep him removed from his
Beloved. (p. 722.)
'Abdu'l-Bahá bids the faithful not to be grieved at the divine trials:
but to turn to God, to bow before His will in lowliness, to pray to Him, to be
content under all conditions, to be thankful to Him in the midst of
They are to know that in this age the greatest of all titles, the highest of
all praise is given for resolution and firmness because the tests and trials
are of the greatest intensity.
The mastery of life and its trials belongs only to believers and comes only
from turning to God. When asked about problems of human relationships or the
life of the home He affirms that one must at all times be free from merely
personal desires and warmed with devotion to God. One must love all people and
one's own family with a ray of the infinite Godward love - personal love is not
enough. To one whose home was a place of strain He wrote: "It behoveth thee
to sever thyself from all desires save for thy Lord the supreme, expecting no
aid or help from anyone in the Universe, not even thy father or children.
Resign thyself to God . . . Be patient. Endure every difficulty and hardship
with an uplifted heart, an aspiring spirit, a tongue that delights to make
mention of the All-merciful."
(pp. 97-8) To another He wrote explaining:
"When thou beholdest with the eye of Truth, then thou wilt realise that in
world neither known nor unknown, neither kind father nor beloved son,
neither mother nor sister help us. No persons assist except the benevolent
Almighty. When thou knowest Him, thou art independent of all else. When thou
art attached to His love then thou art detached kith and kin."
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Only when the heart has broken the lure of a limited love can it be attuned to
the perfect love, the perfect joy that will satisfy it for ever.
"Know that in every home where God is praised and prayed to, and His Kingdom
proclaimed, that home is a garden of God and a paradise of His happiness."
He writes of the importance of marriage and of its responsibilities (e.g., pp.
609, 627) and shows (p. 605) that true marriage is accessible only to the
spiritually minded, and that the real bond between husband and wife is none
other than the Word of God.
He suggests that the naming of a child should be made a religious and social
occasion: that friends should be invited to the home and that before the name
is given suitable prayers should be said; after which the company should enjoy
some light repast together. He calls for obedience and kindness from children
to their parents (p. 551); and on the other hand, in the strongest manner,
stresses the obligation laid by God in this Dispensation on parents to bring up
their children in the knowledge and fear of God, "Should they neglect this
matter they shall be held responsible and worthy of reproach in the presence of
the stern Lord. This is a sin unpardonable ...
For those who seek comfort in the anguish of a fresh bereavement He lifts a
little the veil that hides from them that eternal world in which love knows no
separation. He bids them remember this parting is limited to the body, its
length will be counted in days and over the Spirit death has no dominion at
all. Reunion and everlasting consolation are near. "Thy son shall be with
thee in the Kingdom of God and thou shalt behold his smiling face and his brow
illumined with the beauty of eternal happiness; then thou wilt have comfort and
wilt give thanks to God for His loving kindness to thee."
To the faithful or as he names them "the people of adoration
," He writes
"death is an ark of deliverance,"
(p. 444.) Could these
mourners but see in heaven now the faithful souls they lament, wonder and joy
would check their tears. He comforts a mourning mother (p. 405) "O Bird of
the Rose-Garden of Fidelity! Be of no cheerless heart; have no wing nor feather
broken; sigh not, neither do thou wail nor sit chilled in a corner. The little
girl lamented is in the divine Rose-Garden in the highest happiness and
delight. Why then art thou grieved, sorrowing with a bleeding heart? This is
the day of rejoicing and the hour of ecstasy. This is the season of the
spiritually dead coming forth from their graves and gathering together,
This is the promised time for the attainment of plenteous grace.
"Be calm, be strong, be grateful, and become a lamp fall of light, that the
darkness of sorrow may be scattered and the sun of everlasting joy arise in
brilliant splendour from the dawning place of heart and soul, Upon thee be the
Glory of the Most Glorious!"
To a physician seeking counsel, He writes (p. 688): " Whenever thou
presentest thyself at the bed of a patient turn thy face towardl the Lord of
the Kingdom and supplicate assistance from the Holy Spirit and heat the
ailments of the sick one."
Answering an enquiry about the nature of the sympathetic nervous system He
explains that the powers of the sympathetic nerve are not exclusively spiritual
nor exclusively physical, but are between the two and connected with both. The
operation of the nerve is normal when its relations with the spiritual and the
physical systems are perfect. "When the material and the divine world are
rightly co-related, when the hearts become heavenly and the aspirations grow
pure and divine, then perfect connection between the two systems will follow.
Then shall this power be shown in its perfection, and physical and spiritual
diseases shall receive complete healing. The exposition is brief. Ponder, and
thou shall understand the meaning."
All life in reality opens on heaven, and all experience lies in the path of
God. To those who consult Him about the study and practice of letters, music,
painting, science, and the like, 'Abdu'l-Bahá explains that these
pursuits are one and all to be inspired by the sense of worship. "Art is
as He once said. He affirms that a spiritual motive in the artist
will quicken his progress and heighten his proficiency. A believer will find
his art a natural
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medium of communicating the Divine Message; if his work has itself a spiritual
quality it will awaken the spiritual susceptibilities of the beholder while his
social intercourse with fellow-artists will tend to guide their thoughts to
appreciation of the Divine Beauty.
At the present time all divine power poured from heaven on humanity has its
focus in Bahá'u'lláh, and reaches mankind through His mediation
alone. As in our solar system the source of all physical light is the sun, and
every light directly or indirectly is derived from it, so in the spiritual
realm every Age has its Messiah and truth is attained by men only through Him.
(p. 592.) "Whatever question thou hast in thy heart," writes
'Abdu'l-Bahá, "turn thou thy heart towards the kingdom of Abhá
and entreat at the threshold of the Almighty and reflect upon that problem;
then unquestionably the light of Truth shall dawn and the reality of that
problem will become evident and clear to thee. For the teachings of His
Highness Bahá'u'lláh are the keys to all the doors."
In the past, He points out, there were great philosophers who upheld the ideal
of the oneness of humanity; but at that time the support and inspiration of
heaven were not forthcoming so that their endeavours bore no fruit. To-day
there are many souls in the world who spread thoughts of peace and
reconciliation and long to establish the unity of the human race. But they
likewise are without the dynamic power to carry their ideal into effect. This
power belongs only to the instructions and exhortations of
Bahá'u'lláh whose summons to world-unity is supported by the word
of God and by all the resources of the Kingdom of the Most High. "Therefore,
O thou lover of the oneness of the world of humanity, spread thou as much as
thou canst the instructions and teachings of His Highness
There is indeed need of a thousand teachers, He writes, each one severed from
the world, attracted by the Holy Spirit, radiant with the joy of the Kingdom,
seeking no reward or recompense. "Strive with life and guide the people to
the Kingdom of God, lead them to the straight pathway, inform them of the
greatness of the Cause and give them the glad tidings."
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The world of humanity to-day is like a sick and feeble man; the teachers are
wise physicians. The remedies which they are to apply are two. The first to be
given is that of guidance, that the people "may turn unto God, hearken to
the divine commandments and go forth with a hearing ear and a seeing eye."
When this remedy has had its effect, then the people are "to be trained in
the conduct, morals and deeds of the Supreme Concourse, encouraged and inspired
with the gifts of the Kingdom of Abhá."
(pp. 36-7.) Their hearts are
to be cleansed of all ill-will and to be strengthened in all the attributes of
love and union so that East and West may be joined in one, and universal peace
be established. In the pursuit of their task, teachers are not to spare
themselves nor to seek rest. They are to make the utmost endeavour to bring the
Glad Tidings to the ears of mankind and are to accept every calamity and
affliction in their love for God and their reliance on 'Abdu'l-Bahá. (p.
38.) They are to drink from the eternal chalice of the love of God, to enjoy
its ecstasy and in the radiance of the beauty of Abhá be all aglow with
zeal, delight and eager energy. They all are to work together in perfect
unanimity and singleness of purpose. "Ye must attain such spiritual unity
and agreement that ye may express one spirit and one life."
It was to this end, to unite the hearts of the beloved of God, that
Bahá'u'lláh endured all difficulties and all ordeals (p. 247);
and the aim of 'Abdu'l-Bahá's devotion and service is the same; "that
union and affection may be created among the beloved of God, nay the whole of
the human world."
Nothing can exceed the emphasis and earnestness with which in these Tablets he
appeals for concord and unity among believers, This is the vital instrument
through which is to be achieved the master-objective of the Bahá'í Movement,
namely the transforming of the earth into a paradise, the wide world into one
home, the nations of East and West into one household. "Not until this
(union) is realised will the cause
advance by any means whatsoever."
Therefore, even in those early days of
the Faith when believers were very few in the West, He begins the work of
organisation, urges co-operation and gatherings among the friends, the forming
of committees for promoting the Cause and of what were at that
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time called Boards of Consultation. "The greatest means for the union and
harmony of all is Spiritual Meetings. This matter is very important."
125.) Such meetings will be magnets drawing down divine strength, "Blessed
He writes to one group, "for organising the assembly of
As these meetings begin to materialise, He insists that the highest
degree of union and harmony must exist between them. The spiritual meeting of
consultation in New York must be in the fullest accord with that in Chicago,
and when a similar meeting "shall be organised in Washington, these two
meetings of Chicago and New York must be in unity and harmony with that
He watches over the constitution of these bodies, instructs that each shall
have its clearly marked purpose and fit into the general scheme as an integral
part of the whole, and that no spirit of exclusiveness shall be aroused such as
has happened in earlier Dispensations when arrangements which "were in the
beginning a means for harmony became in the end a cause of trouble."
He enjoins, too, the great observance of the Faith, the yearly fast from March
2nd-20th; "the nineteen-day Fast is a duty to be observed by all"
57) - and the "Feast of Remembrance or Meeting of
as it was then called (p. 421).
He writes (p. 468), "was established by His Highness
The Bab, to occur once in nineteen days. Likewise the Blessed Perfection hath
commanded, encouraged and reiterated it. Therefore, it hath the utmost
importance. Undoubtedly you must give the greatest attention to its
establishment and raise it to the highest point of importance, so that it may
become continual and constant."
He then gives directions as to the keeping of the Feast; and concludes - "If
the Feast is arranged in this manner and in the way mentioned, that supper is
the Lord's supper, for the result is the same result and the effect is the same
These Tablets, published in America and written chiefly to American believers,
form a sister - and complementary - volume to that which contains
'Abdu'l-Bahá's American addresses and bears the title The
Promulgation of Universal Peace
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together they form, as it were, a complete circle of Divine and practical
instruction for the times.
The Addresses constitute the profoundest and most comprehensive textbook on
modern problems. They reveal what true modernism is, dealing with the larger
aspects of the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh, with questions of the
relations and the history of religions and of peoples, with science and
philosophy, with the principles of world order and with definite plans for its
establishment. The Tablets, on the other hand, are directed for the most part
to individuals, often to individuals who look to Him with ardent belief and
adoring love. They reveal clearly and emphatically the essential nature of His
own special station as the bondservant of Bahá'u'lláh and the
Centre of the Covenant. They are heart to heart talks on the personal hopes and
aspirations of His correspondents, their personal trials and difficulties,
their personal duties and obligations to God and His Faith. The writer's
attitude is that of a host greeting an honoured and loved guest, a father
welcoming a dear son home from a long and perilous journey: it is that of a
divine messenger who brings to those struggling in the uncertain turmoil of
earthly life a foretaste of the sweetness and fragrance and harmony and peace
of Paradise and of the eternal glory and power that will he the reward of
'Abdu'l-Bahá stated that these Tablets have an importance which will not
be appreciated for many long years to come. But perhaps their message of the
impassioned all-embracing love of God will never be more sadly needed than it
is now, nor more precious than it is to us as we battle on through the heart of
the storm and the darkness and the ruin of the Night of judgment and