An Address to the Theosophical Society
by Abdu'l-Bahátranslated by Ameen W. Fareed.
published in Theosophic Messenger, 14:3
I HAVE the utmost of happiness this afternoon to be present at this revered meeting - an assemblage of spiritual susceptibilities, an assemblage free from blind imitation, an assemblage trained in the investigation of reality. Therefore I am most happy and I shall never forget this session.
Man is possessed of three verities: first, that of animalism; second, the human reality; third, the reality of the Kingdom. The animal reality can only conceive of the animal world and this is, according to terminology, the animal mold. The second reality is the human reality, which constitutes intellectual perception and the capacity of conceiving every image freely present, the capacity to attain to the image of the Kingdom, and acquires the capacity to present simply the image of the animal. This may be termed the human mold. As to the third reality, which is the reality of the Kingdom, that is the reality representing the image and likeness of God, which is entitled the body of the Kingdom and is sometimes called the astral mold or body.
According to the divine philosophers of the Orient, the statement is made that man is possessed of these three molds. One mold is the animal mold; the other is the human mold, which is capable of illumination and capable also of gloomy states. It is capable of acquisition of virtue and likewise subject to all vices. The third mold is the mold of ideal perfection, and that is called the body of the Kingdom, the astral temple or mold. This is according to the terminology of the divine philosophers of the Orient.
Hence this makes it evident and manifest that if the animal dark mold should overcome the reality of manliness, then man is inferior to the animal even, and baser than the brute. For in the animal the astral temple does not obtain. In the animal the intellectual capacities are not present. Therefore if it remains in darkness the animal is quite excused, it is not responsible. But in man, who is possessed of the intellectual capacities and the mold of the Kingdom, who is possessed of the image and likeness of God - if these divine bestowals
should remain latent and hidden, assuredly he is inferior to the animals because the divine bestowals have been laid waste. But if the forces of the Kingdom should overcome and the Temple of the Kingdom should become resplendent and the image and likeness of God become manifest in man, verily he is the noblest of creatures and the greatest of phenomena. Such an one is a radiant man; such an one is a merciful man; such an one is a beautiful man; such an one is verily the image and likeness of God.
The appearance of the manifestations of God and the appearance of the divine philosophers, all have been for the sole purpose of man becoming educated that the animal realities may be transmuted into the realities of the kingdom, which shall become resplendent. Thus may man become freed from the world of defect and arrive at the highest state and apogee of perfection; may become saved from the bondage of nature; may become the manifestation of all merciful attributes. The activities of the holy, divine manifestations of God have been for no other purpose save that of education, and this is verily the terminal body, this is the perpetual effulgence, this is the glorious appearance unto time immemorial. Unto time without end this shall be a continual effulgence. The bounties of God have had no beginning and shall have no end, because the bounties of God are expressive of the sovereignty of God which is effective in its penetration throughout the phenomena in the world. The sovereignty of God is not, like the human reign of sovereignty, an accidental affair - at a time not existing, anew coming into being, and a time terminating. That is human sovereignty. But the sovereignty of God has no beginning and for it there is no end.
The names and attributes of God have ever been effective and will continue to be effective forevermore. Notwithstanding this, it is astounding that some thoughtless persons have conceived for the effulgence and bounties of God a beginning and likewise an ending. They would state, as it were, that the terminal body is subject to cessation and that divine effulgence may come to a sudden terminus, the everlasting bestowals be ended and names and attributes inactive and useless. This is ignorance. How is it possible for the Sun of Reality which was ever in the highest horizon of sanctity to set forever in its horizon? All spiritual beings and intellectual and ideal souls owe their growth and evolution to the Sun of Reality. Were the rays and the heat and the light of the Sun of Reality to cease, then the world of ideation and the souls of the spiritual world would become extinct. If for it there shall be no rising again, all expressions of life of the ether will become non-existent. No man would linger, no animal would linger, no vegetation, no trace of life would linger, because all phenomena are dependent for their nourishment and nutrition and education upon the light and heat of the Sun. If for the Sun there
shall ever be a cessation of effulgence, all phenomena will become nonexistent and likewise the world of the reality of man. The world of minds and souls, the world of spirit, all receive their education from the heat of the Sun of Reality. If the Sun of Reality sets not to rise again, its light will terminate; then surely the worlds of minds and spirits will have come to an end too, and this is self-evident. But in short, the effulgences of God have forever existed and will exist forevermore. The Sun of Reality has ever had its rising and will continue to have its Sun rise again. For the bounty of God there is never a terminus.
The effective penetration of the names and attributes of God will have no end. The Lordly effulgences have no terminus. Because the reality of divinity is infinite, therefore its bounties are infinite. To conceive of any ending for those bounties is utter ignorance. It is like conceiving a sun without light and heat or ray, and this is an impossibility and every wise man knows that such a conception is preposterous.
Among the effulgences of the Sun of Reality and the bounties of God, His Holiness Baha'o'llah appears on the Persian horizon, illuminating the Orient, giving forth teachings which are for the salvation of humanity, for the illumination of mankind, for the appearance of the virtues in the world of humanity, for the attainment of the perfections of the human world. These were the teachings founded by His Holiness Baha'o'llah; and I here desire to emphasize those teachings for you, because some have asked, "What has Baha'o'llah brought new? What foundation has he laid?"
The first postulate is the Oneness of the world of humanity; that all mankind represents the servant of God the ALL-Glorious; that the Lord has created them all; and that He is kind and clement to all humanity, to all of His creations. If He did not have love for all then He would not have been kind. Now inasmuch as we see expressions of His kindness to all humanity, regardless of distinction, all mankind must be conceived of as being immersed in the sea of His mercy. And man must emulate the policy divine. He must love all humanity and he must see all humanity submerged in the ocean of God's mercy. At most, it is this: Some are weak; they must be strengthened. Some souls have weak perceptions; they must be trained, in order that their perceptions may become acute and keen. Some souls may be sick; they must be treated, in order that they may attain to the state of maturity. But to all LOVE must be shown; to all kindness must be exercised. Baha'o'llah, addressing all humanity says: "We are all the life of one tree, the blossoms of one tree, the fruits of one tree, and that is the Tree of Humanity." For all humanity is honored
in its capacity to attain to humanitarianism. Where do you find a foundation so broad and liberal? Is there a book which considers all the world of humanity as integral, proclaiming its Oneness? This is the foundation laid by Baha'o'llah.
Again, he states that every soul must independently investigate reality. He must not emulate or follow blindly the imitations of asserters. He must not give importance to that sort of ignorance, for imitations are darkness, the cause of separations, the cause of contention amongst men, the cause of sedition or warfare amongst men, and therefore reality must be investigated. Thus may all mankind attain to the utmost of amity and fellowship. And these are the new institutes of Baha'o'llah.
Among the institutes or teachings of Baha'o'llah is this: That religion must prove a factor in the cause of unity and fellowship. It must bind together all humanity. Now if religion should become the cause of hatred and enmity, the cause of alienation among men, the separating of man from man, assuredly, he declares, irreligion is preferable to religion. For the purpose of religion is no other than love and amity. This is one of the special teachings of Baha'o'llah. In no books do you find it so expressed. Religion must conform to reason and science. If religion should prove contrary to reason and science it is not worthy of man's acceptance, because then man cannot be inspired with confidence, he cannot be assured of it, for it has proven disagreeable and contrary to reason and scientific postulates. What inspires the human heart with confidence? That wherein his reason can concur and science prove; therefore if religion should be contrary to reason and the scientific postulates, it is superstition an unworthy of man's credence.
Among the teachings of Baha'o'llah is the following: That religious prejudice, sectarianism, national prejudice, patriotic prejudice, political prejudice - all these forms of prejudice are the destroyers of the foundations of mankind and contrary to the good pleasure of God, because God has purposed that amongst men there shall be love and unity.
If history be consulted from its inception to the present time you will find that all the bloodshed amongst men, the laying waste of lands, et cetera, have been due to religious prejudice, racial prejudice, political prejudice, partisanship, or some political form of bias. Hence, it becomes evident that every prejudice is destructive as regards the foundations of men. Until these prejudices pass away the world of humanity will not find composure. All these prejudices are purely imaginary and superstitious.
Let us first regard religious prejudice. The foundations of the religions of God are one. The teachings of God are one. His Holi-
ness, Abraham, was the head of reality, for the religion of God is ever reality. His Holiness, Moses, was the head of reality. His Holiness, Christ, was the founder of reality. His Holiness, Zoroaster, was the founder of reality. His Holiness, Buddha, was the founder of reality. His Holiness, Baha'o'llah, was the founder of reality. All the present religions are fundamentally one, and that is reality. Were it not for their reality they would have been false and would have passed away. Now, so long as the foundation of the divine religions is one, whence these prejudices? Wherefore should the religions hate each other? Why should the religions rise in opposition to each other? This is absolute ignorance. This is base human nature. For the foundation of the divine religions is one; there is no divergence or difference therein. Hence, religious prejudice is without grounds.
Now as to racial prejudice. All of us, after all, are the progeny of one parentage. We are all the children of Adam and we all belong to the same tribe. We are not divergent peoples. We are the variegated leaves, blossoms, flowers, and fruits of the same tree, and why in the world should we have alienation? Why should we call some Germanic, others Greek, others French, or some British? Why this separation, so long as all of us belong to the same tree, so long as we all belong to Adam's family? We are one tribe, one kind - humankind, mankind. Hence the prejudice of race is without basis. What does German mean, English or French, Russian or Turk? All these are superstitious names. We are all human and we are all men belonging to the same race, the same lineage and progeny; thus racial prejudice is false.
As to patriotic prejudice. God has created one centre, and it was destined to be the habitation of all mankind. Thus we all belong to the same Fatherland. But we have come to drawing imaginary lines, whereas God has not created those lines. Why such distinctions over boundary lines? It is one continent, the same earth - in reality, one home. Therefore, patriotic prejudice is without foundation.
Now consider political prejudice. The greatest policy imaginable is that of God, and we must emulate the policy of God. That is complete. Human policy, however accomplished it may be, cannot compare with the policy of God. Assuredly divine policy is transcendental, comprehending all policies. But as to policies emanating from selfishness, no doubt such will be the cause of the destruction of the human world. Therefore all these prejudices, so destructive, must be laid aside. We must be freed from all these forms of bias and we must serve the world of humanity. This is amongst the special teachings of Baha'o'llah.
Furthermore, in the teachings of Baha'o'llah, as to the qualities of men and women, he declared years ago that man and woman are both human and are the creatures of one God; that in the
estimation of God there is no distinction of gender. All were created after His image and likeness. All humanity is verily the image of God, whether male or female. You will find the genders male and female in all phenomena, in the animal world, in the vegetable kingdom. There is no distinction observed by the vegetable. For example, there are the male palm tree and the female palm tree; the male fig and the female fig tree; the male mulberry and the female mulberry - all the vegetables and trees you will find have gender, but amongst them there is no fight about prerogative. You will discover that amongst the animals the equality of male and female is observed; there is no difference; male and female in the utmost amity live together. The females do not vaunt themselves over the males and the males do not vaunt themselves over the females. In the utmost unity and accord they live together; and man should not be inferior to the animals, especially when the male and the female constitute the two wings of the human temple in the human world. One wing is represented by the male and the other by the female. If one wing remain weak, then weakness will handicap the other wing, and undoubtedly a bird cannot fly with unequal wings. But if both wings be equal in strength, then the flight of the bird will be lofty. Likewise in the world of humanity. When the male and female become perfect and co-equal in all their rights, both wings become strong, then the world of humanity will soar upward. This is the special teaching of Baha'o'llah.
Among the teachings of Baha'o'llah is the adjustment of the means of livelihood amongst men so that each individual member of the body politic may enjoy the utmost of comfort and welfare, but with perfect order accrued to the general social body; with a conservation of means but with a certain system of economics which he has detailed. According to that order and system, all the individual members of the body politic - that is to say, each individual member of the social body - in the utmost of comfort, in the utmost of ease will live, but the degrees and stations will also be conserved, because in the world of humanity order must prevail and degrees must be conserved; were the degrees to be destroyed, disorder would result. The world of humanity may be looked upon as an army. An army must have generals, must have the marshal, the sergeant, the captain, the corporal, likewise the infantry. All the army cannot be the infantry or soldiers and all cannot be sergeants. There must needs be degrees. But the point of importance is that each individual member of the army enjoy the utmost ease and happiness. There are expressed instructions concerning this and these teachings of Baha'o'llah solve the differences which have come, problems of capitalism and of labor which will in the future be entirely erased. This is one of the specialties of the great teachings of Baha'o'llah.
Among the teachings of Baha'o'llah is this: That man is possessed of two natures. He is in need of two civilizations. One is the material civilization, which assures the perfect order of his physical welfare; and the other is his spiritual life, or spiritual civilization, which is the divine civilization insuring happiness everlasting. As to the material civilization, the men of dignity on the earth are the founders, and man is in need of them. As to the divine civilization, the founders thereof are the manifestations holy and divine. Man cannot attain to happiness everlasting through the sole agency of material civilization. Just as he is in need of material civilization, likewise he is in need of spiritual civilization. The founders of the material type are the wise men of the earth. The founders of the spiritual divine civilization are the holy divine prophets. By material civilization only corporal happiness will come, but through divine civilization the life eternal will attain, susceptibilities of the supernatural will attain, the divine perfection will become resplendent and the image and likeness of God will become a verity. Therefore man, however much he may advance in material civilization is nevertheless in need of spiritual or divine civilization and, without the latter, material civilization availeth not.
There are many other teachings which have been given by Baha'o'llah. Great are the foundations, which you have not found in any other book or in any other scriptures.
I praise God that in America such meetings as this do obtain, held on a basis of brotherhood for humanity and based upon an appreciation of verities, founded in the investigation of realities. This revered assemblage in reality may be counted one of the greatest of world assemblages, comprehending the most delightful ethics of humanity wherein the attractions of the conscience are quite evident.
I am hopeful that day by day such susceptibilities and feelings of the conscience may be continued; that the divine bounties may encompass all; that the spiritual effulgences may become resplendent; and that this revered assemblage may advance along all the degrees of human advancement, thus reaching the utmost of happiness on this plane. For all will I seek the eternal honor and glory, and I ask God that day by day the bestowals and useful service of this body may increase.