Is God’s “inmost Essence” manifest?

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iranpour
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Joined: Fri Feb 01, 2013 2:52 pm

Is God’s “inmost Essence” manifest?

Postby iranpour » Mon May 05, 2014 8:10 am

A Baha’i friend had written in the “Baha’i Forums” as follows:
The following two quotes seem contradictory, but I'm sure there must be a way to reconcile them:

Quote:
"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.

8. Conclusion.


I

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)


II

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

iranpour
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Joined: Fri Feb 01, 2013 2:52 pm

Re: Is God’s “inmost Essence” manifest?

Postby iranpour » Tue May 06, 2014 2:38 am

III

THE NAMES, ATTRIBUTES AND ESSENCE OF GOD ARE UNKNOWABLE AND ABOVE OUR COMPREHENSION.


Baha’u’llah has revealed:
“Since there can be no tie of direct intercourse to bind the one true God with His creation” God ordains that “in every age and dispensation a pure and stainless Soul be made manifest in the kingdoms of earth and heaven”. This “mysterious and ethereal Being”, the Manifestation of God, has a human nature which pertains to “the world of matter” and a spiritual nature “born of the substance of God Himself”. (Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 66).


“O Thou Who art the Mainstay of the sincere ones and the Desire of them that enjoy near access unto Thee! Thy manifold favours and blessings and the revelations of Thy grace and loving-kindness have truly emboldened me. How, otherwise, can utter nothingness magnify the Name of Him Who hath, by a word, brought creation into being, and how can an evanescent creature extol Him Who hath demonstrated that no description can ever express Him and no word of praise magnify His glory? He hath from everlasting been immeasurably exalted above the understanding of His creatures and sanctified from the conceptions of His servants”. (Baha'u'llah, Tablets of Baha'u'llah, p. 112).

And ‘Abdu’l-Baha writes:
“If it be said that the mirrors are the manifestations of the sun and the dawning-places of the rising star, this does not mean that the sun has descended from the height of its sanctity and become incorporated in the mirror, nor that the Unlimited Reality is limited to this place of appearance. God forbid! This is the belief of the adherents of anthropomorphism. No; all the praises, the descriptions and exaltations refer to the Holy Manifestations--that is to say, all the descriptions, the qualities, the names and the attributes which we mention return to the Divine Manifestations; but as no one has attained to the reality of the Essence of Divinity, so no one is able to describe, explain, praise or glorify it. Therefore, all that the human reality knows, discovers and understands of the names, the attributes and the perfections of God refer to these Holy Manifestations. There is no access to anything else: "the way is closed, and seeking is forbidden”. (‘Abdu’l-Baha, Some Answered Questions, P. 147).



IV

The Divine Manifestations are the Mouthpieces, Images and Revealers of God, so they reveal His Names and Attributes; and as we saw that the Names and attributes of God are identical with His Essence, it necessitates The Essence of God to be revealed by Them too.


Regarding Jesus Christ:
“God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express Image of His Person, and upholding all things by the word of his power …”. (Hebrews, 1:1-3)‎

I and the Father are one”. (1. John, 10:30).

And concerning, Muhammad, the Prophet, Baha'u'llah reveals:
“The first station, which is related to His Innermost Reality, representeth Him as one whose voice is the Voice of God Himself. To this testifieth the tradition:"manifold and mysterious is My relationship with God. I Am He, Himself, and He is I, Myself, except that I Am that I Am, and He is that He is." And in like manner, the words: "Arise, O Muhammad, for lo, The Lover and The Beloved are joined together and made one in Thee." He similarly saith: "there is no distinction whatsoever between Thee and them, except that they are Thy Servants." The second station is the human station, exemplified by the following verses: "I am but a man like you." "Say, praise be to my Lord! Am I more than a man, an apostle?" (Baha'u'llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 66).


And in the Qur’an, regarding Muhammad the Prophet:

“And you did not kill them, but it was Allah who killed them. And you threw not, [O Muhammad], when you threw, but it was Allah who threw that He might test the believers with a good test. Indeed, Allah is Hearing and Knowing”. (Qur’an, 8:17)


V

The names and attributes of the Divine Manifestations are knowable to 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.

Regarding the subject ‘Abdu’l-Baha writes as follows:

“Thou hast written concerning the Impersonality of the Divinity. Personality is in the Manifestation of the Divinity, not in the ESSENCE of the Divinity. The reality of the divine world is purified and sanctified from limits and restriction. But The Pure Mirror, which is the Manifestor of the Sun of Truth and in which the Sun of Truth is manifest in appearance--that mirror is restricted, not the lights. The soul pervadeth throughout the whole body, and its commands are effective in all the parts and limbs of man. Notwithstanding its utmost sanctification (or abstraction) this soul is manifest and evident in all its grades, in this material form. By seeing God is meant beholding the Manifestation of Himself; for witnessing the sun in its entire splendor, in a clear glassy surface, is identical with witnessing the essence of the sun itself. ...” (Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-BahaAbbas, Pages 204).


In another Tablet, ‘Abdu’l-Baha draws a parallel between the Divine Manifestation and the astronomical sun. He says that each creature receives a portion of the light, but the pure mirror gets all the light and heat and reflect to us, and as it is with the sun and the mirror, so it is with God and His Universal Manifestation:


“The reality of Divinity may be compared to the sun, which from the height of its magnificence shines upon all the horizons and each horizon, and each soul, receives a share of its radiance. If this light and these rays did not exist, beings would not exist; all beings express something, and partake of some ray and portion of this light. The splendors of the perfections, bounties, and attributes of God shine forth and radiate from the reality of the Perfect Man, that is to say, the Unique One, the universal Manifestation of God. Other beings receive only one ray, but The Universal Manifestation is the Mirror for this Sun, which appears and becomes manifest in it, with all its perfections, attributes, signs, and wonders”. (Baha'i World Faith--Selected Writings of Baha'u'llah and `Abdu'l-Baha (`Abdu'l-Baha's Section Only, Pages 323).

To be continued

iranpour
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Re: Is God’s “inmost Essence” manifest?

Postby iranpour » Wed May 07, 2014 10:23 am

VI

THE RELATION OF DIVINE MANIFESTATIONS WITH GOD.

The Bahá’í Writings contain many passages that elucidate the nature of the Manifestation and His relationship to God. Bahá’u’lláh underlines the unique and transcendent nature of the Godhead. He explains that “since there can be no tie of direct intercourse to bind the one true God with His creation” God ordains that “in every age and dispensation a pure and stainless Soul be made manifest in the kingdoms of earth and heaven”. This “mysterious and ethereal Being”, the Manifestation of God, has a human nature which pertains to “the world of matter” and a spiritual nature “born of the substance of God Himself”.


Rumi, the greatest Gnostic, scholar and poet of Iran says:

دو دهان داریم گویا همچو نی
یک دهان پنهانست در لبهای وی
یک دهان نالان شده سوی شما
های و هویی در فکنده در سما
دمدمه این نای از دم های اوست
های هوی روح از هیهای اوست
لیک داند هر که او را منظر است
کاین دهان این سـری هم زآن سـراست


Suppose we have two mouths as a flute,
One of the mouths is hidden in His lips’
And the other mouth moans to you

And made a tumult in the heaven
The clamour of this flute is from His blowing,
The tumult of the spirit is from His clamour.
But those who have keen vision know the truth,
That the mouth of this side is that of the other side
.
(Mathnavi of Rumi Vol 1)

Rumi has chosen the FLUTE or REED as a symbol for the Divine Manifestations because as a flute, they are hallowed and pure from inside and surrender Their will and have no will by themselves and in the last line of this poem he refers indirectly to the unity of the two Mouths namely, God and His Manifestation, that the Receiver is connected with the Revealer at his station of union with Him.


The divinity of Jesus Christ is asserted by the Guardian of the Baha’i Faith as follows:
“As to the position of Christianity, let it be stated without any hesitation or equivocation that its divine origin is unconditionally acknowledged, that the Sonship and Divinity of Jesus Christ are fearlessly asserted, that the divine inspiration of the Gospel is fully recognized, that the reality of the mystery of the Immaculacy of the Virgin Mary is confesse, and the primacy of Peter, the Prince of the Apostles, is upheld and defended (Shoghi Effendi, The Promised Day is Come, p. 109).


The following words of Baha’u’llah clarifies the relation of Muhammad, the Prophet with God:
“Unto this subtle, this mysterious and ethereal Being He hath assigned a twofold nature; the physical, pertaining to the world of matter, and the spiritual, which is born of the substance of God Himself. He hath, moreover, conferred upon Him a double station. The first station, which is related to His innermost reality, representeth Him as One Whose voice is the voice of God Himself. To this testifieth the tradition: "Manifold and mysterious is My relationship with God. I am He, Himself, and He is I, Myself, except that I am that I am, and He is that He is." And in like manner, the words: "Arise, O Muhammad, for lo, the Lover and the Beloved are joined together and made one in Thee." He similarly saith: "There is no distinction whatsoever between Thee and them, except that they are Thy Servants." The second station is the human station, exemplified by the following verses: "I am but a man like you." "Say, praise be to my Lord! Am I more than a man, an apostle?" These Essences of Detachment, these resplendent Realities are the channels of God's all-pervasive grace. Led by the light of unfailing guidance, and invested with supreme sovereignty, They are commissioned to use the inspiration of Their words, the effusions of Their infallible grace and the sanctifying breeze of Their Revelation for the cleansing of every longing heart and receptive spirit from the dross and dust of earthly cares and limitations”. (Baha'u'llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 66).

جميع اسما را از مشرق اسمش ظاهر بيندو جميع صفات را از مطلع ذاتش باهر يابد جمال خود را در جمال حق فاني نگرد و جمال حق را در جمال خود باقي يابد چنانچه شمس فلك توحيد و بدر سما تفريد حضرت خاتم النبيين صلي الله عليه و سلم در عروج معارج احديه از مزمار نداي جانفزاي معشوق حقيقت و غيب هويت تغني ( قف يا محمد انت الحبيب و انت المحبوب ) استماع نمود و در گلزار ملك و ملكوت و گلستان حقيقت و لاهوت بدين نغمه الهي تغني فرمود كه ( لي مع الله حالات هو انا هو الا هو هو و انا انا ) و در اين مقام ستاره هستي و وجود مقيد در مغرب نيستي و فنا متواري گردد و افتاب هستي مطلق از فجر احديت بي نقاب سر بر ارد و طلوع فرمايد و اتحاد ساقي و شراب و شارب اشكار گردد فنعم ماقال
روح دل كو مست جام قدسي است
خود مي و خود ساغر و خود ساقي است “.
(مكاتيب حضرت عبدالبها - جلد ٢: صفحه۲۱)


The above Persian writing of ‘Abdu’l-Baha regarding the wayfarer on the path of reunion is the quest of our research in this subject but I couldn’t find the translation and did an unauthentic one:

“He will see apparently all the names appear from the day-spring of His name and see all the attributes from the dawning-place of His essence are manifested and he finds his beauty mortal in relation to the beauty of God, and finds the beauty of God in his own beauty, as the Sun of the firmament of unity and the Moon of singleness, His Holiness, the Seal of the Prophets in His ascending to the Divine ascensions [Ma’arij, the plural of Mi’raj (*)] He heard from the Flute the cheerful call of the True Beloved and the Hidden Essence, the melodies of (Stop O Muhammad, ye are the Beloved and the Loved), and in the Rose-Garden of earth and heaven and the Paradise of Reality and Divinity, sang this divinely singing, “[b]Manifold and mysterious is My relationship with God. I am He, Himself, and He is I, Myself, except that I am that I am, and He is that He is[/b]”. And in this position, the star of being and the limited existence will be fled to an unknown destination and the Sun of Absolute being, without any veil, will rise from the Divine Daybreak and the unity of the Cupbearer, the Wine and the Drinker will be appear. How well the following poem indicates this reality:

The living heart who is inebriated by the Celestial Cup,
It is both, the Wine, the Cup and the Cup-bearer”.


Bahá’u’lláh describes the station of “Divinity” which He shares with all the Manifestations of God as follows:
“…the station in which one dieth to himself and liveth in God. Divinity, whenever I mention it, indicateth Mycomplete and absolute self-effacement. This is the station in which I have no control over mine own weal or woe nor over my life nor over my resurrection”.


And, regarding His own relationship to God, He testifies:
When I contemplate, O my God, the relationship that bindeth me to Thee, I am moved to proclaim to all created things “verily I am God”; and when I consider my own self, lo, I find it coarser than clay! (Baha'u'llah, The Kitab-i-Aqdas, p. 234).
______________________________________________________________________________________________________

(*).(Mi'raj is the journey of the Prophet Muhammad into heaven which has believed to attain the presence of God. It has took place during a single night around the year 621). To be continued

brettz9
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Re: Is God’s “inmost Essence” manifest?

Postby brettz9 » Thu May 08, 2014 4:39 am

Iranpour, may I respectfully suggest you consider putting such efforts as these as wiki contributions on sites such as http://bahaikipedia.org , or, if you are limiting yourself to quotations with explanatory headings, at http://bahai9.com ?

Unless someone is already asking a question, or if you are asking a question yourself, my feeling is that a discussion forum as this is less likely to generate interest when the posting is long and not naturally interactive. But at a wiki, you can arrange quotations or explanations that you have put together so that others researching the topic are more likely to rediscover your contributions in the future, and you can also invite others to expand or improve upon your work, including in discussion forums like this. Or if you want to retain control of the content, submit an article to bahai-library.com so it can be categorized, etc.

Just a thought.

Best wishes,
Brett

iranpour
Posts: 74
Joined: Fri Feb 01, 2013 2:52 pm

Re: Is God’s “inmost Essence” manifest?

Postby iranpour » Thu May 08, 2014 5:36 am

Thank you very much Brett for your comment, I will consider and try to have short posts hereafter.
VII

The answer to our Muslim friend who was trying to find fault with the Writings of Baha’u’llah.


A Muslim friend wrote on the same thread and the same Forum (Baha’i Forums) that while in the Baha’i teachings the non-access to the essence of God has stressed, Baha’u’llah has written:

کلّ الالوح (۱) من رشح امری تالّهت و کلّ الرّبوب (۲) عن طفح حکمی تربّت
( آثار قلم اعلی- جلد دوم قصیده عزّ ورقائیّه ص. ۳۳۶)
ارباب -۲ الهه -۱

The above writings of Baha’u’llah, (Athar-i-Qalam-i-A’la, V.3, p. 336) which has not translated into English, is the one with which our Muslim friend found fault, and winked at the two words, which are clarified by Baha’u’llah in the text of the tablet and consequently translated it as following:

“All Gods became Gods from the flow of my affairs and all Lords became Lords by the overflowing of my decree”


While regarding the meaning of the words, phrases and idioms in that Tablet, that is revealed by Baha’u’llah Himself in the text and in this case the meanings of the two words, (ULUH) the plural of (الهه - ALIHA), namely (gods) and (RUBUB) as (ارباب - ARBAB), namely (MASTERS) has written in the text by Baha’u’llah, and consequently the right translation would be as follows:

All gods became gods from the emanation of My Cause. And all MASTERS became MASTERS by the overflowing of My decrees.


Conclusion

Notwithstanding the Baha’i belief that the Divine Manifestations are the revealers of God’s names, attributes and essence, believing in the divinity of the Bab and Baha’u’llah necessitates to deny the Invisible, Inaccessible God, which is as we considered, contrary to all the Baha’i Scriptures and Baha’u’llah has rejected this accusation in many of His Writings. Following is a sentence of an Arabic Tablet which I think has not translated into English, Baha’u’llah revealed that, “some of the unbelievers say, He has denied the Invisible One, say be dumb, O who dost associate a partner with God; the invisible (God) speaketh through this New Tongue (Baha’u’llah), to this, the atoms of the earth testify that there is no God save Him’.

“من المشرکین من قال انه انکر الغیب قل صه لسانک یا ایها المشرک بالله ان الغیب ینطق بهذااللسان البدیع تشهد الذرات انه لا اله الا هو
(کتاب مبین ص107)

Notwithstanding “the Song of Divinity” uttered by those “Sacred Hollowed Reeds”, those Divine Mouthpieces, the Divine Manifestations, in the Long Obligatory Prayer we repeatedly say that “God is Inaccessible”:


“Too high art Thou for the praise of those who are nigh unto Thee to ascend unto the heaven of Thy nearness, or for the birds of the hearts of them who are devoted to Thee to attain to the door of Thy gate. I testify that Thou hast been sanctified above all attributes and holy above all names. No God is there but Thee, the Most Exalted, the All-Glorious”.


And in the next part of that prayer, Baha’u’llah, the Tongue of Grandeur, testifies to the existence of God and that “there is no God but Him”:


“I testify unto that whereunto have testified all created things, and the Concourse on high, and the inmates of the all-highest Paradise, and beyond them the Tongue of Grandeur itself from the all-glorious Horizon, that Thou art God, that there is no God but Thee …”

While the Manifestations of God reveal the names and attributes and essence of God and are the means by which humanity has access to His Knowledge and His Revelation, Shoghi Effendi states that the Divine Manifestations should “never be identified with that Invisible Reality”.

I finish my post with the following writings of our beloved Guardian, Shoghi Effendi which I believe is the best explanation of the subject:

“To whoever may read these pages a word of warning seems, however, advisable before I proceed further with the development of my argument. Let no one meditating, in the light of the afore-quoted passages, on the nature of the Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh, mistake its character or misconstrue the intent of its Author. The Divinity attributed to so great a being and the complete incarnation of the names and attributes of God in so exalted a Person should, under no circumstances, be misconceived or misinterpreted. The human temple that has been made the vehicle of so overpowering a revelation must, if we be faithful to the tenets of our Faith, ever remain entirely distinguished from that “Innermost Spirit of Spirits” and “Eternal Essence of Essences”—that invisible yet rational God who, however much we extol the Divinity of His Manifestations on earth, can in no wise incarnate His Infinite, His Unknowable, His Incorruptible and All-Embracing Reality in the concrete and limited frame of a mortal being. Indeed, the God Who could so incarnate His own reality would, in the light of the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh, cease immediately to be God. So crude and fantastic a theory of Divine incarnation is as removed from, and incompatible with, the essentials of Bahá’í belief as are the no less inadmissible pantheistic and anthropomorphic conceptions of God—both of which the utterances of Bahá’u’lláh emphatically repudiate and the fallacy of which they expose.


He Who in unnumbered passages claimed His utterance to be the “Voice of Divinity, the Call of God Himself” thus solemnly affirms in the Kitáb-i-Íqán: “To every discerning and illumined heart it is evident that God, the unknowable Essence, the divine Being, is immensely exalted beyond every human attribute, such as corporeal existence, ascent and descent, egress and regress. Far be it from His glory that human tongue should adequately recount His praise, or that human heart comprehend His fathomless mystery. He is and hath ever been veiled in the ancient eternity of His Essence, and will remain in His Reality everlastingly hidden from the sight of men … He standeth exalted beyond and above all separation and union, all proximity and remoteness… ‘God was alone; there was none else beside Him’ is a sure testimony of this truth.” (The Dispensation of Baha’u’llah, P. 112).

brettz9
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Re: Is God’s “inmost Essence” manifest?

Postby brettz9 » Thu May 08, 2014 8:00 am

My interest is not for you to have short posts but for you to consider supporting the wikis where I think this information would be most useful. We could use your contributions there too!


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