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Hidden Words:
Training Course on

by Dianne Bradford

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Chapter 8

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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