The following two quotes seem contradictory, but I'm sure there must be a way to reconcile them:
"Know thou that God—exalted and glorified be He—doth in no wise manifest His inmost Essence and Reality. From time immemorial He hath been veiled in the eternity of His Essence and concealed in the infinitude of His own Being." – [Bahá'u'lláh, Gems of Divine Mysteries (Javahiru'l-Asrar), P. 35]
Quote:"From the letter “B” He hath made the Most Great Ocean to appear, and from the letter “H” He hath caused His inmost Essence to be made manifest." - Bahá'u'lláh] (The Tabernacle of Unity, P. 57)
The only idea I have is that God's inmost Essence is manifest to the Manifestations, but He has not manifested and will never manifest His Essence to us. I have found quotes that say we can't comprehend God's Essence, but I don't know about the Manifestations. What do you guys think?
Referring to the question, many good answers had given and I want to add some.
The summary of my answers are as follows:
1. The essence of all created things is unknowable, how much More the Essence of God.
2. The names and attributes of God are logically identical with His Essence.
3. The names, attributes and Essence of God are Unknowable and above our comprehension.
4. The Divine Manifestations are the Mouthpieces and Images of God, so they reveal His Names and Attributes; and as Names and Attributes of God are identical with His Essence, it necessitates the Essence of God to be revealed by Them too.
5. The names and attributes of the Divine Manifestations are KNOWABLE for man and we can comprehend them but their Essence as the essence of God and those of the world of creation are unknowable and has never been nor will ever be knowable to any soul.
6. The relation of Divine Manifestations with God.
7. The answer to a Muslim friend who was going to find fault with one of the writings of Baha’u’llah.
The essence of all created things is unknowable, how much More the Essence of God.
We know that anything in the world of being is known by its attributes and not by its essence. As it is with the material things how much more is with the spiritual ones as the essence of Manifestations of God and that essence of God Himself. The following words of ‘Abdu’l-Baha clarifies the subject;
“As our knowledge of things, even of created and limited things, is knowledge of their qualities and not of their essence, how is it possible to comprehend in its essence the Divine Reality, which is unlimited? For the inner essence of anything is not comprehended, but only its qualities. For example, the inner essence of the sun is unknown, but is understood by its qualities, which are heat and light. The inner essence of man is unknown and not evident, but by its qualities it is characterized and known. Thus everything is known by its qualities and not by its essence. Although the mind encompasses all things, and the outward beings are comprehended by it, nevertheless these beings with regard to their essence are unknown; they are only known with regard to their qualities.
Then how can the eternal everlasting Lord, Who is held sanctified from comprehension and conception, be known by His essence? That is to say, as things can only be known by their qualities and not by their essence, it is certain that the divine reality is unknown with regard to its essence and is known with regard to its attributes. Besides, how can the phenomenal reality embrace the Preexistent Reality? For comprehension is the result of encompassing—embracing must be, so that comprehension may be—and the Essence of Unity surrounds all and is not surrounded”. (Some Answered Questions, Pages 220-221)
THE NAMES AND ATTRIBUTES OF GOD ARE LOGICALLY IDENTICAL WITH HIS ESSENCE.
‘Abdu’l-Baha has proved logically that the names and attributes of God are identical with His Essence, because we cannot separate the Essence of God from His Attributes. We cannot pray God and forget mentioning His names and attributes or ascribe all these names and attributes to the essence of God. In order to know these names and attributes, we have to imagine them other than The Essence of God, and consider the difference between His Attributes and His Essence and consequently account God composed of “essence” and “attributes” and by this act we divide Him into two identities. In this case we would believe in the duality of God, which is contrary to our belief of “Unity of God”:
“Nevertheless, we speak of the names and attributes of the Divine Reality, and we praise Him by attributing to Him sight, hearing, power, life and knowledge. We affirm these names and attributes, not to prove the perfections of God, but to deny that He is capable of imperfections. When we look at the existing world, we see that ignorance is imperfection and knowledge is perfection; therefore, we say that the sanctified Essence of God is wisdom. Weakness is imperfection, and power is perfection; consequently, we say that the sanctified Essence of God is the acme of power. It is not that we can comprehend His knowledge, His sight, His power and life, for it is beyond our comprehension; for the essential names and attributes of god are identical with His Essence, and His Essence is above all comprehension. If the attributes are not identical with the essence, there must also be a multiplicity of preexistences, and differences between the attributes and the essence must also exist; and as preexistence is necessary, therefore, the sequence of preexistences would become infinite. This is an evident error. (Abdu’l-Baha, Some Answered Questions, p. 148).
Now regarding identity of the Essence and Attributes of God, the Divine Manifestations are not only mirrors of THE names and attributes of God, but the REVEALERS OF HIS ESSENCE too. To be continued