Chapter 13 Chapter 15
The Departure. Abdul-Bahás Last Words In America. Seven Distinctive Characteristics Of The Teachings. Evidences Of The New World Order.
Every Christ came to the world of mankind. Therefore, we must
investigate the foundation of divine religion, discover its reality,
reestablish it and spread its message throughout the world so that it may
become the source of illumination and enlightenment to mankind, the spiritually
dead become alive, the spiritually blind receive sight and those who are
inattentive to God become awakened.
Abdu'l-Bahá, Promulgation of Universal Peace, pp.
The morning of December 5, 1912, witnessed a remarkable scene in one
of the saloon cabins of the S. S. Celtic as she lay in the slip in New York
harbor, yet how few realized its significance.
Here was a great modem steamship about to leave for Naples. As I went up the
gang-plank I found myself in the midst of that indeterminate, indescribable
rushing about; the bustling confusion of a departing liner. Friends saying a
last good-bye; laughter with wet eyes; petty-officers bellowing orders;
whistles from passing ferryboats; uniforms, business suits, rumbling baggage
trunks, women, children--and the wintry sun bright over all.
I caught sight of several of my friends and joined them on their way to the
large saloon cabin which seemed to have been given over to the farewell scene.
Here the atmosphere was very different. True, the noises of the world without
penetrated but were silenced by the serenity of another world. Here was
Abdu'l-Bahá, His face a mosaic of beauty. His cream-colored robe fell to
His feet. His fez slightly tipped, as I had grown accustomed to seeing it at
times. In fact the position of that head-dress seemed to me often indicative of
His mood--humorous, slightly tipped; welcoming, a backward slant; grave and
serious, firmly on His crown of silvery hair; authoritative and commanding,
slightly over His dome-like brow. These may be fanciful differentiations but
much of my time during my many meetings with Him had been spent in silent
watchfulness of that compelling figure, and many must have noted, as had I,
that one of His most characteristic movements was the involuntarily lifted hand
adjusting the fez to a new angle.
My memory recalls the scene as though yesterday my eyes beheld it. The large,
low-ceiled saloon was crowded. At least one hundred, possibly more of the
friends were there. The Persians who had accompanied Him to this country
surrounded Him--more correctly speaking, were grouped behind Him. Indicative of
the Oriental attitude toward the Master was the noticeable fact that never,
under any circumstances, would one of them dream of standing in front of Him,
or even beside Him, unless summoned or delivering a message. When walking
always were they in the rear. Even when accompanied by only one, and conversing
with Him, that one always walked an appreciable few inches behind Him. When
speaking with Him they rarely raised their eyes to His face. In His presence
they stood as before a king. How different the Western believer's attitude! Our
boasted democracy has its windy aspects under any circumstances, but when in
the presence of spiritual majesty humility is freedom.
Few of us found seats. The chairs and lounges were limited and we were many.
The interpreter, who had long been His secretary and was now returning with
Him, stood a pace behind Him. And then He spoke. For the last time, in this
world, that beloved voice resounded in my ears. I have often mentioned the
quality of that voice. Never shall it be forgotten by those who truly heard it.
It had a bell-like resonance unapproached by any other. It seemed to carry with
it the music of another world. Almost one could imagine an accompaniment of
"This is my last meeting with you. These are my final words of exhortation.
I have repeatedly summoned you to the cause of the unity of the world of
humanity, announcing that all mankind arc the servants of the same God.
Therefore you must manifest the greatest kindness and love towards the nations
of the world, setting aside fanaticism, abandoning religious, national and
racial prejudice.... Therefore if anyone offends another he offends God.
God loves all equally. As this is true should the sheep quarrel amongst
themselves? They should manifest gratitude and thankfulness to God, and the
best way to thank God is to love one another.
Beware lest ye offend any heart, lest ye speak against anyone in his
absence, lest ye estrange yourselves from the servants of God. Direct your
whole effort towards the happiness of those who are despondent, bestow food
upon the hungry, clothe the needy and glorify the humble. Be a helper to every
helpless one and manifest kindness to your fellow-creatures in order that ye
may attain the good-pleasure of God. This is conducive to the illumination of
the world of humanity and eternal felicity for yourselves. I seek from God
everlasting glory on your behalf; therefore this is my prayer and
After a reference to the war then being carried on in the Balkans, and
the arresting sentence; in the light of what occurred two years later: "A
world-enkindling fire is astir in the Balkans," He continued:--
"As to you: your efforts must be lofty. Exert yourselves with heart and soul
so that through your efforts the light of universal peace may shine; that all
men may become as one family; that the East may assist the West and the West
give help to the East.
Consider how the Prophets who have been sent, the great souls who have
appeared and the sages who have arisen among men, have exhorted mankind to
unity and love. This has been the goal of their guidance and message. Consider
the heedlessness of the world, for, notwithstanding the efforts and sufferings
of the prophets of God, the nations are still engaged in hostility and
fighting. How heedless and ignorant are the people of the world! How gross the
darkness which envelops them! Although they are the children of a compassionate
God, they continue to act in opposition to His will and pleasure. God blesses
and protects their homes; they rage, sack and destroy each other's homes.
Consider their ignorance and heedlessness!
Your duties are of another kind. for you are informed of the mysteries
of God. Your eyes arc illumined, your ears are quickened with hearing. You
must look towards each other and then towards mankind with the utmost
love and kindness. You have no excuse to bring before God if you fail to
live according to His command, for you are informed of that which constitutes
the good-pleasure of God. You have heard His commandments and precepts. You
must, therefore, be kind to all men; you muse even treat your enemies as
your friends. You must consider your evil-wishers as your well-wishers.
Those who are not agreeable towards you must be regarded as those who are
congenial and pleasant; so that, perchance, this darkness of disagreement and
conflict may disappear from amongst men and the light of the divine may shine
forth; so that the Orient may be illumined and the Occident be filled with
fragrance; nay, so that the Ease and the West may embrace each other in love
and deal with each other in sympathy and affection.
Until man reaches this high station the world of humanity shall not find
rest, and eternal felicity shall not be attained. But if man lives up to these
divine Commandments, this world of earth shall be transformed into the
world of heaven and this material sphere shall be convened into a Paradise of
It is my hope that you may become successful in this high calling, so that
like brilliant lamps you may cast light upon this world of humanity and
quicken and stir the body of existence like unto a spirit of life.
This is eternal glory. This is everlasting felicity. This is immortal Life.
This is heavenly attainment. This is being created in the image and likeness of
And unto this I call you, praying God to strengthen and bless you."
Such ideas and ideals have been expressed by all the noble ones of the
past and present but at this great crisis in the history of mankind their
implications are entirely different.
(1) They are not only exhortations; they are Commands. Note the recurrence of
the word "must."
(2) They are characterized by their completeness (I here refer to the full and
exhaustive revelations of Bahá'u'lláh and their practical
exemplification by Abdu'l-Bahá) and their definite application to the
needs of the hour.
(3) Never in the history of mankind has the mind of the average man been so
matured and prepared to listen to, and to act upon them, nor so generally aware
of the pressing, immediate need of their application.
(4) For at least 1300 years such ideals and commands have not found utterance
through human lips by One Who not only spoke them but lived them.
(5) These Commands are addressed not to a select group, not to one nation or
race, but to all peoples and individuals throughout the world, and the call is
to form an entirely new WORLD order, a new type of International Civilization
founded upon these Divine Revelations--for such is the unequivocal claim.--This
World Order having been explicitly outlined, and directions given for its
practical working, in the voluminous writings and detailed explanations of
Bahá'u'lláh and Abdu'l-Bahá.
In order that the reader may have before him a picture of what this New World
Order envisages, I quote a few words from The Goal of the New World Order
written by Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the Bahá'í Faith, in
1931. He quotes from Bahá'u'lláh's Tablet to Queen Victoria,
written about 1866, as follows:
"O kings of the earth! We see you adding every year unto your expenditures
and laying the burden thereof on the people whom ye rule; verily this is naught
but grievous injustice. Fear the sighs and tears of this Wronged One, and
burden not your peoples beyond that which they can endure ... Be reconciled
among yourselves, that ye may need armaments no more save in a measure to
safeguard your territories and domains. Be united, O concourse of the
sovereigns of the world, for thereby will the tempest of discord be stilled
amongst you and your peoples find rest. Should anyone among you take up arms
against another, rise ye all against him, for this is naught but manifest
And Shoghi Effendi comments as follows:
What else could these weighty words signify if they did not point to the
inevitable curtailment of unfettered national sovereignty as an indispensable
preliminary to the formation of the future Commonwealth of all the nations of
the world? Some form of a world super-state must needs be evolved, in whose
favor all the nations of the world will have willingly ceded every claim to
make war, certain rights to impose taxation and all rights to maintain
armaments, except for purposes of maintaining internal order within their
respective dominions. Such a state will have to include within its orbit an
international executive adequate to enforce supreme and unchallengeable
authority on every recalcitrant member of the commonwealth; a world parliament
whose members shall be elected by the people in their respective countries and
whose election shall be confirmed by their respective governments; and a
supreme tribunal whose judgment will have a binding effect even in such cases
where the parties concerned did not voluntarily agree to submit their case to
its consideration. A world community in which all economic barriers will have
been permanently demolished and the interdependence of Capital and Labor
definitely recognized; in which the clamor of religious fanaticism and strife
will have been forever stilled; in which the flame of racial animosity will
have been finally extinguished; in which a single code of international law -
the product of the considered judgment of the world's federated representatives
- shall have as its sanction the instant and coercive intervention of the
combined forces of the federated units; and finally a world community in which
the fury of a capricious and militant nationalism will have been transmuted
into an abiding consciousness of world citizenship - such indeed, appears, in
its broadest outline, the Order anticipated by Bahá'u'lláh, an
Order that shall come to be regarded as the fairest fruit of a slowly maturing
(6) During the 93 years since the Message was announced by the
Báb, and in the 74 years since the public announcement of His Mission
and station by Bahá'u'lláh, and--more noticeably--during the
sixteen years since the establishment of the function of Guardianship and the
inauguration by Shoghi Effendi of the administrative framework of the New World
Order, the several millions of enrolled believers in all the countries of the
world have been organized into a coherent, steadfast, self-sacrificing army
which unreservedly accepts these commands as of divine origin and is prepared
to obey them unquestioningly.
The attention of the thoughtful ones amongst statesmen, scientists and laymen
has been noticeably aroused by this unprecedented phenomenon. Year by year this
accelerated motion is increasing. There is therefore plainly to be seen growing
up in the midst of a world of unrest, confusion and strife; a world of
uncertainties and planless effort, the actual appearance of a new type of
manhood; a new conception of government and citizenship; a new vision of the
practical possibilities of human life upon this planet.
(7) To whatever cause it may be ascribed it is becoming increasingly apparent
that many, if not all, of the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh are being
accepted by the broader minds, the wiser statesmen of the world, irrespective
of their knowledge of the life, or the acceptance of the station of their
The reader may desire, and is entitled to, a proof of the last assertion. Any
complete quotations from men universally accepted as more or less qualified to
speak intelligently of world affairs would require a large volume. The
quotations given are only meant to be indicative of a trend of modem thought
which any wide reading will substantiate.
"Cooperation muse be the leading thought. Not one country only but the world
must be organized into one commonwealth. National armaments must disappear and
only a sufficient police force remain to keep order. Those countries in which
women are most active in public affairs are democratic and
Arthur Henderson, President of the Disarmament Conference
at a dinner
given by the Women's Organizations of the Consultative Group.
Here two of the commands of Bahá'u'lláh are supported. Almost the
exact wording of Bahá'u'lláh's command is used regarding the
method to be followed in disarming. Also Bahá'u'lláh's Words
regarding the station of Women in this Day are acknowledged as wise.
"The liberal scientific research--man's eternal search for truth in its
vase, ever-changing forms--cannot be too highly encouraged and praised."
Crown Prince Gustaf Adolf of Sweden.
From his address at the Spring
Festival, Uppsala University.
This may seem a commonplace to the reader: but when it is remembered that when
Bahá'u'lláh first voiced the Command that the "Independent
investigation of Truth" is the first requisite in a divine civilization, such
an idea was generally unacceptable. When I was a boy an energetic controversy
waged for some years over whether Darwin's theory of the Origin of Species
could possibly be accepted since it seemed to contradict the story of man's
origin as given in Genesis. And I seem to remember that even today a certain
State in this enlightened country of ours still has a statute quite rigidity
enforced, which is based not upon whether the theory of evolution has an
element of truth, but upon whether it can be justified by a prejudiced and
ignorant interpretation of words written some thousands of years ago. Galileo,
Roger Bacon, Copernicus lived not so long ago and we still have with us the
It is an unquestioned fact that prior to the middle of the 19th Century the
final decision as to what constituted Truth was almost exclusively in the hands
of ecclesiastics, and the pursuit of science untrammeled was difficulty to say
the least. Not until Bahá'u'lláh issued His Commands relative to
the oneness of science and religion did the freedom of the mind attain its
birth. Coincidence if you like, but there it is.
"The present time is not an economic revolution but a spiritual revolution.
We, the people of today, are passing through the most momentous and
far-reaching changes that have taken place since the beginning of recorded
history. Science has made us the undisputed masters of all the forces of
Nature. There is enough grain to feed everybody. There is enough wool to clothe
everybody. There is enough stone and mortar to house everybody. And yet the
picture all around us is one of vast hopelessness and despair.
Something therefore must be wrong with the picture! That is what we say.
Would it not perhaps be a little fairer to confess: "Something is wrong with
`To have or to be!' I shall submit that terrific sentence to all who have
eyes to see and ears to hear and that true spiritual courage that is the basis
of all permanent progress."
Hendricks Van Loon. "To Have or to Be."
"It may be that, without freedom from one's self, all other freedom is vain.
. . Perhaps in the deeper realization of our inevitable brotherhood, perhaps in
our increased awareness of values other than material, there may be the germs
of a lasting faith by means of which the diverse peoples of this nation may be
united in a common purpose. . . .We need a unifying faith by means of which
some part of the responsibilities that we are now carrying may be lifted from
us, in the light of which our way may be made clearer before us."
Margaret Cary Madeira. Atlantic Monthly.
"No system of human relationships can succeed if operated in the attitude
and with the intention of mutual exploitation.
Any system will succeed if operated in the spirit of mutual service; indeed,
in this spirit the need of systems would disappear."
Jas. H. Cousins. The Young Builder.
"In all these spheres--the economic, the racial, the international, which in
many places overlap--there are signs that the golden age is dawning. It will
not come automatically. It will come, as reforms have always come, because some
heroic souls count not their lives dear in order that they may translate from
the ideal to the actual those truths by which Jesus Christ lived and for which
D. G. W. Stafford, of University Temple, Seattle,
at the Institute of
"Not only in relation to our physical needs but in relation also to our
mental needs does our new interrelated civilization play a vital part.
Spiritually we cannot go back to the water-tight divisions, to the narrow
loyalties, to the little sectarianisms which characterized the old way of
A new and wider trail has been blazed; and while there will undoubtedly be
an occasional loss of direction, as there is at the present moment, the trend
toward a world economy and a planetary consciousness is too definitely under
way to be permanently reversed.
Raymond B. Fosdick. Scientific American.
It would be possible to continue such quotations almost indefinitely, and to
cap each one with the definite command of Bahá'u'lláh; but surely
any unprejudiced mind, after even a cursory study of the writings of
Bahá'u'lláh and Abdu'l-Bahá, will find innumerable
examples of the fulfillment of their commands in the daily press, current
magazines, the announcements from laboratory, national council chambers, the
work rooms of inventor, and mechanic; "Whether we look or whether we listen" we
see and hear on every hand the fulfillment of Their Words, the obedience to
While Abdu'l-Bahá was in this country He said to one who mourned the
conditions prevailing throughout the world, then in far less distress than now,
that we should not be disturbed, that whatever may occur in the future we must
know always that nothing happens that does not forward the Kingdom of
Bahá'u'lláh. His Will is supreme.
Speaking in Montclair, N.J., June 23, 1912, Abdu'l-Bahá said:
None of the Prophets of God were famous men, but They were unique in
spiritual power. Love is the eternal sovereignty. Love is the divine power. By
it all the kings of earth are overthrown and conquered. What evidence of this
could be greater than the accomplishment of Bahá'u'lláh? He
appeared in the East and was exiled. He was sent to the prison of Akká
in Palestine. Two powerful despotic kings arose against Him. During His exile
and imprisonment He wrote Tablets of authority to the kings and rulers of the
world, announcing His spiritual sovereignty, establishing the religion of God,
upraising the heavenly banners of the Cause of God.
Again speaking at a dinner in Washington, D.C., April 22, 1912, only ten
days after His arrival in this country, He said:
Today in this meeting we have an evidence of how Bahá'u'lláh
through the power of the love of God has exercised a wonderful spiritual
influence throughout the world. From the remotest parts of Persia and the
Orient He has caused men to come to this table to meet with the people of the
West in the utmost love and affection, union and harmony. Behold how the power
of Bahá'u'lláh has brought the East and West together. And
Abdu'l-Bahá is standing, serving you. There is neither rod nor blow,
whip nor sword; but the power of the love of God has accomplished this.
The point I am endeavoring to make is this: That
Bahá'u'lláh lays claim to a Divine Power which overrules men and
nations; that this Power is the power of the Love of God; that everything that
is happening in this world today is evidence of that overruling Power; that
investigation of the Commands and foresight of Bahá'u'lláh and
His Exemplar compared with the events transpiring in the world since 1853 will
bear testimony to the effectiveness of that Power, and finally, that there is
unmistakable evidence on every hand; in every quarter of the globe; amongst
every type of mind and every activity, that world opinion is moving with
accelerated motion into line with a world order exactly corresponding to the
plan outlined by Bahá'u'lláh, promulgated and exemplified by
Abdu'l-Bahá, and now, at this very moment, being organized,
administrated and operated by His grandson, Shoghi Effendi, from the
international center at Haifa, Palestine.
What, then, is the complete picture of the situation? It is beyond the bounds
of the human mind to give this picture in its fullness, and beyond the limits
of this book even to portray so much of it as is within these bounds. But
enough has been pointed out to allow for a brief and graphic picture of its
We see a small group numbering several millions of souls, scattered in all
parts of the world, composed of every nation, race and creed, without
reservation accepting Bahá'u'lláh as the Supreme Law-giver for
the world organization of a new order of civilization, and ready to sacrifice
all, even to life itself in His service. Balancing this, and working in
complete harmony with it, we see the League of Nations gradually coming into
line with these Laws; we see world opinion coming to a realization that such
laws are indispensable if any true civilization is to exist, and we see the
framework of that new order actually growing rapidly before our very eyes under
the administration of Shoghi Effendi. Let him who reads investigate with open
mind and ask himself whether such a movement may with wisdom be neglected.
To return to the scene on the S. S. Celtic. When Abdu'l-Bahá had
finished His brief talk He requested all present to come to Him that He might
take their hands in a parting expression of His love. How impressive that
scene, how filled with a significance beyond words to express, how fragrant
with an atmosphere of a world far removed from the sordid world around us, may
only be intimated.
We slowly passed in front of Him. To each He gave a handful of the flowers
massed near Him--of which, by the way, none remained when He had finished--and
to each He spoke a few words of love and encouragement. When my own turn came I
again forgot all but His nearness and the overwhelming fact that never again in
this world would I see Him, or hear that beloved voice. I impulsively dropped
to a knee, raised His hand with mine and placed it upon my head. Never shall I
forget the relaxation of that arm and hand. It made no move of itself. It was a
dead weight in my clasp. But His face was illumined with transcendent light.
Here was my final, indelible impression of that supreme humility, evanescence,
servitude and love which ever characterized His slightest act, and which never
The friends gathered on the wharf looked up at the figure of their Master as
the ship slowly moved into the river. Abdu'l-Bahá stood at the rail. His
white hair and beard moved by the breeze. His erect, majestic figure outlined
clearly. In His hand I noticed the rosary which was His constant companion. His
lips were moving. I could easily read those lips. "Alláh'u'Abhá!"
"Alláh'u'Abhá!" "God the Most Glorious!" "God the Most
Chapter 13 Chapter 15