.

STORIES OF ABDU'L-BAHA

as told by

Muriel Ives Barrow Newhall

Introduction
"

Abdu'l-Baha, in appearance, was a man of medium height though to all who met Him, He gave the impression of such majesty that He seemed much taller. His beard was flowing and white; His head covering, whether a turban or tarboosh, was white also. But, meeting Him, none of these details were even noticed. It was only the spirit one felt and the outpouring love. Love filled Him and flowed out from Him to bathe and encompass everyone in His presence.

He was, as we all know, the Mystery of God. His Station is unique. There has been no one like Him in any past religious era, nor will there ever be such in the future. Baha'u'llah had bestowed upon Him the assurance of God's guidance in His explanations of anything in the Teachings that needed clarifying for the believers and, when He was but ten years old, His Father, Baha'u'llah, addressed Him and referred to Him as 'the Master.'

He was the perfect Exemplar of the Baha'i Teachings: He lived by prayer and wished only to be known as 'Abdu'l-Baha the servant of the servants. He made no mistakes.

Yet, with all this, He needed, as we all need, the constant attitude of prayer to renew and revivify Him, and, urging us ever upward. His constant adjuration was, "Do as I do. Be as I am.

Table of Contents





Repetition




When He was here in America in 1912 He spoke in many places and, as we read these talks in the Promulgation of Universal Peace, it is very often noticeable how much He repeats Himself, approaching the point He wishes to make from many angles. One evening a woman, after telling Him how much she had enjoyed His Talk, complained of this. He smiled at her gently.

"And what is it I repeat?" He asked.

Of course she couldn't tell Him.


Table of Contents




Golden rain...



Abdu'l-Baha was so filled with love and the reflected Glory of God, the heritage from His Father, Baha'u'llah, that it radiated from Him like light from a lighthouse. Sometimes this was visible. Nina Mattieson told this story that Lady Blomfield had told her. Abdu'l-Baha was speaking from the pulpit of a church in London and Lady Blomfield, sitting toward the back of the congregation, clearly saw broad rays of golden light pouring from Him over the people. But she noticed a strange thing: The Golden Rain - as she thought of it afterward - avoided some people completely, while others it flooded in illumination.








Table of Contents





Not yet known.




At the time of Abdu'l-Baba's second visit to Newark, He spoke in my Father's Brotherhood Church in Jersey City. My father had begged Him to do this, and at once Abdu'1-Baha had consented, but He would set no date. Father was eager and anxious that a date be definitely set, partly because the Master was to leave New York again - this time for California, and partly because he knew from experience that to have a successful meeting required publicity and announcements and invitations, all of which took time. So he began pressing Abdu'1-Baha for the date. Each time the Master would smile gently, pause a moment (to consult some inner knowledge?) then, shaking His head, would murmur "It is not yet known." Father, a not-too-patient man, urged in every way he could but he got nothing more. And the date of 'Abdu'1-Baha's departure was approaching. Suddenly, early in one week, He announced He would speak the following Sunday. Father was frantic. Only four or five days to publicize such an important event. But, to his astonishment, there was plenty of time. Doors opened swiftly, one after the other, and when that Sunday evening came the large hall that Father had rented for his Brotherhood Church was completely filled with the overflow standing along the back.

Of course 'Abdu'l-Baha spoke about brotherhood. True- brotherhood that transcended national boundaries and religious customs and practices and paid no heed to the unimportant surface differences of skin color. For of what importance were these when it was the Soul of a man that mattered in its relationship to the Spirit of God? And if this true brotherhood were practiced throughout the world if each man truly loved his brother more than he loved himself, considering his brother's welfare far more than his own, Mankind would truly become mature, and the Kingdom of God on earth would become a fact. And wasn't this the essence of Baha'u'llah's Message? Wasn't this the reason why He had endured the persecutions, the exiles, and the imprisonments? To announce to mankind the dawning of this great New Day - the rolling up of the Old World Order and the glorious unrolling of this New World Order under the aegis of Baha'u'llah - the Glory of God?


Table of Contents










Translation...



And sometimes this great love and glory was strongly felt. There is the story of the coal miner in California who had walked many miles to meet Abdu'l-Baha Who, of course spoke that evening as He always did through an interpreter. The coal miner became more and more impatient. Finally, unable to stand it any longer, he leaned toward the man sitting next to him. "Why does that man continually interrupt the Master?" he asked. The man explained, "Abdu'l-Baha is speaking in Persian it must, be translated." "Translated!" the coal miner was outraged. "Nothing Abdu'l-Baha says needs translating - anybody can understand Him."






Table of Contents





Dedication



Then there is the story about our dear Fujita his wiry little Japanese-American body so radiating joy and love - his smile like a veritable explosion of the spirit. Fujita met 'Abdu'1-Baha in Cleveland, Ohio. At that time Fujita was a medical student but the moment he met the Master he was one no longer. He dropped his studies, his former life, everything to follow Him. He followed from Cleveland to Chicago and finally to California and eventually to New York and Haifa where, for fifty years, he made and kept those beautiful gardens even more beautiful. First for Abdu'l-Baha, and then for Shoghi Effendi. When I was there, in 1972, Fujita had been retired from active gardening and had been appointed as a one-man welcoming committee to the home of Abdu'l-Baha. He has now crossed the threshold into the next world of God, but I have the memory of him standing at that lovely wrought iron gate, smiling his explosive smile and waving us on our way.







Table of Contents





At the zoo



When Abdu'l-Baha was first in Chicago it, was Spring and He was eager to go to the zoo. He had never seen a large city zoo, and He was very merry over the prospect. Then it was explained to Him that, this being the Spring of the year, most of the animal-mothers would be bearing litters and, at the first approach of a stranger, they'd rush their babies into safe hiding. This did not perturb Abdu'l-Baha at all. He wanted to go anyhow. So a group of five or six of the Friends took Him. He motioned to them to stay a little behind and He went forward all alone. And, as He approached each cage, the small animal-mother brought out all her babies to show Him, then hurried them back to safety and protection from the following Friends.







Table of Contents






Questions not asked...



Once Abdu'l-Baha asked His Father, Baha'u'llah why it was He had never clearly designated the language that was to become universal. And Baha'u'llah said, very simply, "Because no one ever asked Me." This answer has always filled me with a sense of frustrated awe. To think that the opportunity was given mankind to learn the answers to questions that had puzzled him since the beginning of time to have the mysteries of the universe solved! If only he had asked the questions and known the right questions to ask.





Contents Part One Contents Part Two


Books



A Pilgrim once told me that she had asked the Guardian why so few of the books of Baha'u'llah had been translated into English. Shoghi Effendi smiled at her lovingly and said it would be many years before the books we of the West had would be truly and deeply studied - when that happened more would be given us.









Table of Contents





Study, study, study



Which brings to mind the story told me of a newly declared believer, radiant and eager to serve. He wrote Abdu'l-Baha asking what he should do. Abdu'l-Baha told him to study the Teachings. Eighteen years later the man wrote again to the Master saying that for several hours each day for the eighteen years he had studied the Teachings and what should he do now? Promptly Abdu'l-Baha wrote and told him to go and study the Teachings. This was an East Indian Baha'i where, now, the Faith is truly roaring.







Table of Contents





Sow the seeds...



And there is another story concerning India. Once, in the early days, Abdu'l-Baha sent an eager believer there to 'sow the seed, deliver the Message.' The man went, and two years later returned very discouraged. "I have sown the seed. I have delivered the Message through the length end breadth of India and they will not listen. Not one single soul has declared his belief in Baha'u'llah! What shall I do now?" And Abdu'l-Baha said rather sternly, "Go back and sow the seeds. I did not tell you to gain believers. I told you to sow the seeds,"





Table of Contents





A book



On one of His visits to New York He stayed with Juliet Thompson on West 10th Street not far from Fifth Avenue. Two or three doors away and across the street, the poet Khalil Gibran was staying with friends. He and Abdu'l-Baha had met in Syria so now they met again. Gibran said that he believed in everything Baha'u'llah had taught, but that he would never declare himself as a Baha'i because he had his own message to give to mankind and he wished this to remain clearly his. However, said Gibran, he would like to do something for Abdu'l-Baha - so what might he do? "Abdu'l-Baha was pleased and said, very good - go write me a book and the famous Jesus, the Son of Man of Khalil Gibran's was that book. . . .
This story was told to me by Hammideh Khan whose father, Ali Kuli Khan had been told it by Abdu'l-Baha, Himself.





Table of Contents





Obedience and trust



Every thing He did or said taught someone something: but He warned, "Listen to and obey the first thing I say - for that is what is best for you. If, however, I find you reluctant, I soften and reduce My request till I arrive at a burden that, you feel, suits the strength of your shoulders. But My first request would not have been beyond your strength - if you had only trusted Me." Shoghi Effendi repeated this and it seems the Universal House of Justice functions on the same principle.








Table of Contents





Charity



With all of His spiritual knowledge and vision Abdu'l-Baha was extremely practical. On His third visit to New York He stayed with the Kinneys at their home on West End Avenue. This was only one block from Riverside Drive, where, often, He would walk. One late afternoon He came back with his snowy 'aba' wrapped close around Him and He was laughing. It seemed that on the Drive, he had come across a poor man whose trousers were literally in rags. So Abdu'l-Baha had taken him behind some thick shrubbery where quickly He had taken off his own trousers, stripped the rags from the man, and got him decently clothed. How amazed that poor man must have been. And how amused Abdu'l-Baha, who, with his aba wrapped tight around him to hide his trouser less condition came home laughing.





Table of Contents





Lover of truth



It was some years before this, when Abdu'l-Baha was in Paris, that a group of men from Teheran came to Him deeply troubled, They had walked all the way from their homes in Persia - since traveling on foot was the only proper way to meet their Master - to make what they considered a most vital request. In a village, there was a Baha'i who was causing a great deal of trouble because of the lies he told. He lied about everything with the result that misunderstandings, distrust and confusion reigned. This dreadful situation, Abdu'l-Baha would, they begged, have to do something about. Abdu'l-Baha agreed; indeed it was a most dreadful situation and certainly He would do something about it. He would write the man a letter. And the salutation at, the heading of this letter was, "0 thou great lover of Truth" (Sadly there is no record I have seen of the balance of this Epistle - which must have been priceless.)




Table of Contents





Detachment



As an example of the methods of Abdu'l-Baha's teaching: My father was having difficulty understanding this matter of Detachment. Just what were we supposed to become detached from? We were taught not to become isolated and detached as were the monks in a monastery. It was also an obligation to work and support those dependent upon us. So where did detachment fit into this picture? One day Father asked Abdu'l-Baha about all this. They were walking up Broadway after a meeting and Abdu'l-Baha made no answer. After walking a few blocks, Father repeated his question. Still no answer. They reached 76th Street, where the Kinneys lived and turned left to West End Avenue. As they mounted the outside steps, Father asked for the third time. Abdu'l-Baha reached the front door, opened it, and started up the inner stair to His room, Father pattering along after. They reached the second floor, and turned on up to the third, Father following doggedly. Abdu'l-Baha entered His room with Father close on His heels. And there the Master turned. "Mistair Ives," He asked gently, "Are you interested in detachment?" Father, his face scarlet, was silent. He couldn't say he was and he wouldn't say he wasn't.



Table of Contents




In His foot steps


There are many stories of Lua Getsinger. This one was told me by Grace Ober, who heard it from Lua herself. It happened on one of Lua's several visits to Acca and Haifa when she and Abdu'l-Baha were walking together on the beach. Lua dropped behind slightly and began fitting her small feet, into His much larger foot prints. After a few moments the Master turned to ask what she was doing. "I am following in your footsteps," said Lua. He turned away and they walked on. A few moments later, He turned again, "Do you wish to follow in my foot steps?" He asked. "Oh, yes," said Lua. They walked on - and Abdu'l-Baha turned again, "Lua! Do you wish to follow in my foot steps?" His tone was louder and stern. "Oh, yes," said Lua again. Then, the third time he stopped and faced her. "Lua!" it was almost a shout, "Do you wish to follow in My foot steps?" "Oh, yes!" said Lua for the third time - and with that, a great tarantula jumped out from a hillock of sand and bit her ankle. Abdu'l-Baha saw this and paid no attention, turning away and again walking. Lua followed, still fitting her footsteps into His. Her ankle swelled, the pain became excruciating, till, finally, she sank down with the agony of it. Then Abdu'l-Baha picked her up and carried her to the ladies quarters, where the Greatest Holy Leaf put her to bed. The agony increased. Lua's temperature flamed; delirium set in. Finally, the Greatest Holy Leaf could stand it no longer and she implored Abdu'l-Baha to heal her. He examined her carefully then laid His hands gently on her forehead. The temperature drained away, her head cleared she was healed. And it was only later that it was explained to her that she had been suffering from a strange and virulent condition of her blood which the bite of the tarantula had cured.

Table of Contents