Firmness in the Covenant and Protection of the Cause of God
1) Version one, dated 1914 September 02
This article was written in the Fall of 1914, and some typed manuscript copies of it were at that time circulated among a few Bahais in the European Assemblies, where, and when, it will be recalled, certain conditions of violation, centered in London, caused the matter of firmness in The Covenant to be forcibly called to the attention of the friends throughout the entire Bahai world. It is with the approval of the Bahai Committee of Investigation that copies of this treatise are now being circulated in this manifold form.
These days are the days of the Light of God in the world. From The Center of the Bahai Covenant there is now proceeding the Light of Guidance Of the Abha Kingdom, and through this channel of Divine Grace the people of the Cause are spiritually sustained and enabled to do God's work in the world. Therefore, it is of the greatest importance that each and every Bahai Assembly be protected from those contrary or dark or destructive forces which are attacking the firmness of the friends of the Cause, seeking to separate and cut them off from The Center from which is radiating the spirit of the Covenant.
Sacred history tells us that the day of revelation has ever been the time of supreme spiritual test for the people. When the sun is at its zenith, then the shadows are the blackest and the most sharply defined, while in the night there are no shadows. So it has been during the ministry of each divine manifestation when the Light of the Sun of Truth is the brightest. In the day of each of God's messengers upon earth the belief and faith of the people has been sorely tried and tested, while in the times following the ministries of the prophets (which spiritually speaking was for humanity the time of the night) the signs of the Truth became so manifest that the people were able to follow God's Word without danger or difficulty.
During the day of Moses, He was the point of revelation, and all who attached themselves to Him were firm and strong in the Lord, while those who allowed the spirit of denial to enter into their hearts severed themselves from the source of light and became as dead trees without life or fruit.
In the days when Moses was leading the Children of Israel through the wilderness the dangers, trials, and tests were many. The people were constantly doubting and violating the law, and Moses had great difficulty in keeping them firm in His command; but during the age which followed the commandments of Moses were so firmly established in Israel that the people followed the law in comparative ease and safety. After the departure of Moses from this earthly plane it became clear that He was the Prophet of God, and thus all became strong in Him, who was the point of divine guidance in His day.
During the days of Jesus, The Christ, there were vast multitudes Who followed Him and who were attracted to the principles of His teachings, but of these there were but a very few who know Him to be The Christ, The Son of The Living God, the Channel of Divine Revelation, Truth, and Eternal Life to the world. Those of the people who recognized His divine station received in fullness that spiritual bounty which He brought to the world, but those who were merely attracted to the general principles of what He taught, but were blind to the fact that He was the Center from which, or the channel through whom, these divine bounties were being given to the world, were not in a position to receive the blessings of God. Thus the divinity of Christ was the supreme test for all who heard His message. They were attacked and beset upon all sides by the doubts of the world, but those whose souls were quickened with spiritual perception knew Him to be The Christ, the Son of the Living God, and through this knowledge and
the spiritual blessings which resulted therefrom they became the foundation of the church end were the means through which Christianity was perpetuated and handed down to the people of future generations.
The Apostles of Christ suffered many doubts and their belief was sorely tested, but through the care and guidance of their divine shepherd Jesus they were shielded from denial, and in the end all save one remained firm in the Cause.
Thus the true foundation of Christ, which was in Jesus Himself, having been firmly laid in the hearts of the earliest Christians, the way was made comparatively easy for the people of after generations to come into the faith, for, looking implicitly to Jesus, there was no question as to the all-important point of the revelation; namely, that Christ, the Incarnate Word, was the source of their spiritual life, and His word and spirit was their way to God.
Thus, as one examines into the early history of each of the religions of the past, it is clearly seen that in each day of revelation the all-important thing has been that the people should know and accept the annointed One — the Point of Divine Manifestation; that they should implicitly follow His teaching, and then turn their backs upon all doubt and denial which would cause their separation from the source of spirit, which is the Manifestation Himself.
As it has been in the past revelations, so it is in the present revelation of these latter days. During the ministry of The First Point, The Bab, the great test to the people was His divinity. He labored and taught, and suffered years of imprisonment, and He shad His blood that the people might know that He was the First Point of this Latter-Day Revelation, and that through Him they might be prepared to receive the Promised One Baha'o'llah.
Those followers of The Bab who remained free from the doubts and evil suggestions of the enemies of the Cause became the pillars of steadfastness, and in the days which passed, before the coming of Baha'o'llah, they were the strength, of the Cause.
When Baha'o'llah appeared end declared Himself to be The One whose coming The Bab had foretold, those who in reality were firm in The Covenant of The Bab received Baha'o'llah, and through Him received the new spirit of the Kingdom which He brought.
In the day of Baha'o'llah there was no refuge for any save Him. The tests of the believers were severe. Many violators arose, endeavoring to sow seeds of doubt in the hearts of the Bahais, thus to sever them from the source of light which was the Manifestation "Baha'o'llah." Those who withstood all tests and remained firm and steadfast were blessed and showered with the Divine Bounties of the kingdom, while those who entertained doubts grew cold, and cut themselves off from the Living Root of Truth. These doubting souls came to naught; they were as limbs falling to the ground.
Again, in this present day of the ministry of the appointed Center of The Covenant of Baha the people are being tested and tried in faith. Baha'o'llah appointed a, center of guidance who should be as a shepherd to the flock of spiritual sheep, the believers in His Cause. The Center of The Covenant is the explainer of the teachings of Baha'o'llah, and from that Center is now being radiated to the people of the Cause the living spirit of Baha'o'llah.
As the leaves on a tree receive their sustenance from the root of the
tree through the branch, so do the Bahais now receive their spiritual sustenance from Baha'o'llah through obedience to the one whom He appointed to be the shepherd and the guardian of His flock - Abdul Baha.
Therefore, in this day of The Center of The Covenant, the all-important thing is for the Bahais to be firm in Abdul Baha, aria the one thing to be avoided is the spirit of denial of The Testament of Baha'o'llah. If that spirit of violation, which is the spirit of the nakazeen, enters the soul of a Bahai it is as poison and death to his spirit, for it cuts him off from the source of divine light, and he becomes as a diseased or a dead member of the kingdom, and perforce casts himself down from the high station to which he was called.
In the sacred teachings we are taught that spiritual enemies are of two kinds: open enemies who oppose frankly face to face, and those enemies who come in the guise of friends seeking by seditious means to destroy the faith of the believers. As for the first, who openly combat the Cause, Abdul Baha tells us to love them, and to treat them with the utmost consideration and kindness, as friends, and thus soften their hearts and win them to the Cause; but, as for the second, those who would deceive us into believing that they are friends in order that they may secretly attack the Cause and thus accomplish its destruction, Abdul Baha tells us to avoid all association with them. As long as the friends obey this injunction, the Cause is protected and safe and no harm can come from them, but if Abdul Baha's word is not obeyed, and those people are allowed to associate with the friends, spiritual death and destruction will inevitably follow.
The Center of The Covenant is the heart of the body of Bahais in the world, and from that center each member of the body (each believer) is receiving spiritual life and force. In the physical body, when the blood circulation in good order, each organ and member of the body is sustained and nourished, and the whole body is active and in health, but if poison is injected and the circulation is stopped, the organs will cease to be sustained, and illness and death will ensue.
In like manner so it is with the Bahais. When the spirit of denial enters into their midst, the souls become severed from Abdul Baha, their source of light is cut off, and spiritual degeneration and destruction and death come quickly.
When a member of the physical body becomes gangrenous, it is necessary to amputate that member and cast it away, otherwise the whole body will become infected and die.
If perchance a believer has doubts, or is suffering spiritually, the love and attention of the friends is poured out upon him in order that he may be healed and again made strong in the Cause, but if a Bahai falls into the condition of the nakazeen tie immediately becomes a danger to all Bahais with whom he contacts, and for the safety of the Cause he must be eliminated. When people associate with one who is in contact with a person who is ill with a loathesome disease, it is as if they were contacting directly with the sick person, so far as the contagion is concerned, for disease germs may be carried by one to many.
So it is also with one who associates with the nakazeen upon one side and with true Bahais upon the other side, for in this way the poisonous doubts and spirit of the violation may be conveyed to many believers without their contacting directly with the first cause of the trouble. The reality of the
matter in, that as soon as one allows oneself to imbibe this insidious poison one places oneself in the condition of the nakazeen, and then the people should also avoid that one along with the other violators.
This avoidance of the nakazeen (violators) applies to all the Bahais, whether they are old and firm in the Cause, or whether they are young in the Covenant. No individual or assemblage of Bahais can, under any conditions, violate this order of the Divine Physician without suffering the inevitable consequence.
In order to illustrate this point, Abdul Baha once said that an army of one thousand men in perfect health and vigor could not heal one man ill with an infectious disease, but that association with that one ill man would cause the infection of the whole army.
We all know how necessary it is to quarantine certain diseases, notwithstanding our love for the ill person and our sorrow at being separated from that one. However, at such a time personal sentiments must be sacrificed for the good of the community, and the infected must be separated from those whom they might infect. In like manner must all personal desires and attachments be sacrificed for the welfare of The Cause of God, and particularly at a time when the Cause is being assailed by the disease of violation. It was reported the other day in a certain city in Europe an enemy was caught with a bottle of cholera germs, with which he was about to pollute the city water supply. He was arrested and imprisoned. Although hard upon the aggressor, it was indeed a mercy for the people of that city that the police lost no time in placing this man where he could attempt no more harm.
Now, with equal alacrity, let us Bahais all arise to carry out the commands of The Center of The Covenant. As soon as we know of anyone attempting to poison or pollute the source of our spiritual light by secretly spreading false teachings and doubts as to the validity of The Covenant and The Testament of Baha'o'llah, which is Abdul Baha, let us immediately separate ourselves from that person so that we may be safe and that person be in a position where he cannot harm the Cause, for such a one can do no harm to the Cause without mingling with the believers. As long as the poison is kept from the body all is safe and well.
We can draw a lesson from the warfare now rife here in Europe. In order that soldiers may be in a condition to fight and overcome the enemy, they must have good ammunition, be properly fed and nourished, and kept free from disease and illness. It is a generally acknowledged fact in the military world that it is more difficult to keep an army in good physical condition free from internal weaknesses than it is to overcome an enemy in the open field.
The spirit of The Covenant is ever going out from The Center to those who are working and serving in the far corners of the world. Abdul Baha is the Spiritual Commander and the believers are His soldiers in the field.
Like the military commander's thought for his soldiers, Abdul Baha's concern is ever for the protection and spiritual welfare of those who are teaching the Cause of Baha'o'llah in the various countries — that His spiritual soldiers may be nourished and fed upon the pure food of the Word of God and kept in good condition, free from all spiritual disease and weakness. Therefore, Abdul Baha is protecting His people from the poison of violation by the many explicit instructions and exhortations in Tablets and by the spoken word, through the study of which we know how to recognize these who violate The Covenant, and by non-association with these souls protect The Cause of God which is so dear to all of us.
During the past two years, it has been my privilege to travel extensively in America and Europe, visiting all of the larger and many of the smaller Bahai Assemblies. It has been remarked by the experienced Bahais that in the Assemblies where the people are entirely free from the influence of the spirit of the nakazeen and are strong in The Covenant and Testament, that there is activity, movement, growth, harmony, and Bahai spirit very manifest; whereas, in those Centers where wavering souls are mingling with the Bahais (those who secretly deny The Covenant and Testament of Baha'o'llah) there is always the spirit of quiescence, no movement or growth, inharmony, and all of those characteristics which indicate stagnation, disintegration, and spiritual disease and death. Such signs are demonstrations of the spiritual wisdom of Abdul Baha, and the necessity for all to follow minutely the commands of our Spiritual Commander, even though we ourselves may not comprehend His wisdom.
Sheep have been used to symbolize the believers of God. Of all animals sheep are the most gentle, unsuspecting of danger, and the most helpless in the presence of the wolf. Their only safety lies in obeying the voice of the shepherd and remaining safe within the fold. If the wolf is let into the fold, nothing can save the sheep, but as long as he is kept out from amongst the sheep all are perfectly safe from harm. In a parallel manner are true Bahais sheep-like in their gentleness and love and in following their Spiritual Shepherd, Abdul Baha. Like the sheep who meekly follow their shepherd, the Bahais who unquestioningly obey The Center of The Covenant are protected and safe in the Testament of Baha'o'llah.
Written in Europe,
2) Version two, dated 1918 March 21
This article has recently been written in the hope that a record of my various personal observations and experiences in the Bahai Cause may be useful to some people who at this present time are concerned about the matter of "firmness," for now this question, because of recent violations of the principles of Baha'o'llah, has been forced upon the believers in America for consideration and action. It is with the approval of the Bahai Committee of Investigation that copies of this treatise are now being circulated in this manifold form.
THE PROTECTION OF THE CAUSE OF GOD.
During the past few years, it has been my portion of the Abha experience to have travelled quite extensively among the Bahai assemblies in various countries, and to have witnessed under varying conditions the working of the Cause, and upon occasions to have observed at first hand certain phases of violation of the Cause of Baha'o'llah, in some instances to a considerable extent in the large assemblies, and in other instances here and there among individuals and small groups of our people, but always being destructive and detrimental to the vitality of the Spirit of The Covenant.
It is only recently that the real gravity of these various forms of violation have been dawning upon me. At one time the actual spoken denial of Abdul Baha as The Center of The Covenant of Baha'o'llah was the only violation which my mind could grasp, but latterly, through studying the Holy Words and through intimate association with those who have had a very clear understanding of these principles, I have been led to see that many of these internal ills in the Cause, such as the spread of superstition and false teachings, the circulation of falsehoods and calumnies, causing division and enmity between the friends, and the disregard for the laws of the Holy Book, are all forms of violation. I have been one of the least awake to these traces of violation, and it has only been through the mercy of the Protecting Providence that I have not been more misled at times than I actually was. Ignorance of the spiritual law on our part does not excuse us from the consequences of association with violation any more than ignorance of physical laws will prevent us from suffering the effects of taking a dose of poison. Therefore, it behooves each one of us to study more diligently the laws and principles of The Covenant, so that we may become more efficient laborers in The Lord's Vineyard.
With our present understanding of the Holy Word I can see that in times past I have been drawn into sideways and byways of superstition and imagination leading away from the basic principles of the Cause, which, if followed, would have cut me off from The Covenant, and these incidents were surely the whisperings of the voice of violation. A number of our friends have told me that they have had experiences similar to mine, but, thank God, His bounty is great, and the encircling Abha spirit is powerful, and when we turn to It we find the desired protection. Knowing this, and realizing the dangers through which we are passing on our perilous spiritual journey through this life, we should increase to overflowing our love for all the friends and our solicitude for their spiritual welfare and their firmness in The Covenant. We should love them, and labor with them, and do all in our power to help them and to help ourselves to keep close to the Spirit and the Word which guides us to Abdul Baha.
Most of us can understand the working of a law with more clearness and comprehension if we can see and study concrete examples of its application; therefore, I feel impelled to share with the Bahai friends some of my personal experiences and observations of the violation, hoping that these experiences and observations may prove advantageous to them, as I feel they have been to me, in this present crisis in the Bahai Movement in America, arising from the violation
centered in Chicago. This present condition, so diffused among our assemblies, has made it imperative that ovary one calling himself a "Bahai" should take a definite stand on the side of firmness in The Covenant through obedience to Its principles.
When we consider the present condition in the world of spiritual darkness, hatred, strife, war,, and bloodshed, with all of the attending economic, social, national, racial, and philosophic and religious unrest, it is not surprising that the faith of the people of The Covenant of God is now being tried and put to the test. We are living In the day of the great Armageddon. The ideals and institutions of the past ages are dying, and the divine ideals and institutions of God's Kingdom have been born into the world of humanity; therefore, this great struggle, now in progress, is essentially and fundamentally one of the spiritual forces struggle between the powers of Light and of Darkness the heavenly powers arrayed against the satanic powers, and this great war between peoples and nations is but one of the manifestations of this great conflict.
Upon the one hand, we see the early manifest light of the New Age, just breaking upon the world, giving birth to that new throb of universal brotherly love and humanitarianism so characteristic of this day, while upon the other hand we see manifest upon all sides that darkness, most intense just before the dawn, begetting hatred and animosity, and leaving in its wake a trail of horror am bloodshed in magnitude of destruction without parallel in all recorded history.
It has been clearly explained in the Holy Writings of the Bahais, as well as in the revealed books of former religions, that this time of terror would come, and that its coming would be, as it is, precipitated by the stir-up caused by the coming of the Latter-Day Revelation of God. It is due to the coming of the Promised One and the establishment of The Cause of God that the evil forces are now so rampant, for their day is over, and having but a short time yet to live they are putting forth a great effort in the awful agony of their death struggle.
Many of the early Bahais in America will recall that about fifteen or twenty years ago our beloved Abdul Baha spoke and wrote of this time of struggle, when the faith of all would be tested, and when only those firm in The Covenant would stand. He said that even the firm ones would then be in great danger. In speaking of this time the Saviour, Jesus The Christ, said: "For there shall be great tribulation, such as hath not been from the beginning of the world until now; no, nor ever shall be, and except those days had been shortened, no flesh would have been saved; but for the elects' sake those days shall be shortened." [St. Matthew, XXIV: 21-22.]
As we look over the religious history of past dispensations, we can see that in each day of revelation, when God's Manifest One was upon earth, pouring forth the living waters of truth, at that same time the powers of darkness were attacking from ovary quarter the souls who were receiving this light. There the light is the most brilliant, the shadows are the most pronounced and well defined, and the blackest. This same principle of struggle of the lower against the higher power is clearly manifest in the experience of every human being, for, when a divine spiritual ideal is born into the consciousness of the individual Soul, immediately a struggle is set up by certain elements in his nature which, working on a lower plane than the spiritual, naturally tend to control and manifest their forces through the life of that individual. Here these lower forces are met by the power of the higher, or the divine principle, and a struggle ensues, for either the higher or the lower must dominate the individual. The forces of both planes, divine and human, cannot each simultaneously be in supreme control. A soul must become the vehicle of expression for the forces of one, not both, of these
planes, human or divine, and this has been proven by experience. During the struggle for supremacy between the human and the divine aspirations of the individual the divine ideal either takes the place of the human ideal and dominates the life of the parson, or the spiritual ideal is lost to realization, for in clinging to the human point of view, and in attaining this ideal, the divine station is sacrificed. Man cannot serve two masters God and Mammon.
In each day of divine revelation we can see that the people have been subject to the storm of trials and tests of faith, so that it is not surprising to the Bahai that now, in this day of The Center of the Covenant, when the beloved Abdul Baha is holding aloft the banner of firmness and pouring forth upon his followers the divine spiritual blessings of assurance, steadfastness, and truthfulness, the spirit of faithlessness, wavering, and hypocrisy should attack the believers, as has been the case in each age of part revelations. A brief study of the teachings of Abdul Baha regarding the necessity for the protection of the Cause from the spirit of violation will be quite sufficient to convince the average student of the seriousness and importance of this matter. The channel of the vital spirit of Baha'o'llah, coming to us through Abdul Baha, must be preserved pure and holy from violation; otherwise, should we become cut off from that outflow, or should its purity become polluted, then for us there would be no revivifying spirit and no real or pure Bahai Cause.
One of the Persian Bahais once explained to me the significance of the "Sadrat-el-Montaha" or "tree of direction." It seems that in certain desolate wastes of land in the Orient, where habitations are few and the routes of travel not well defined, and often difficult to locate, at a crossing of roadways a tree is planted which serves as a guiding beacon to travellers, so that from a distance the caravans can, by the help of these "trees of direction", distinguish the correct route of travel from side tracks and byways, which, if followed, would lead them astray.
The Manifestation and His Covenant are the "Sadrat-el-Montaha" to humanity. As long as people keep their gaze fixed and their souls concentrated upon the source of the religion of God, they will be protected and safe; but, when the divine principles of the Revealed Word are lost to sight amid the imaginations and superstitions of this world, souls are led astray and faith and hope and assurance, and the love of friends for one another, all parish, and then spiritual darkness descends upon the people.
The Center of The Covenant is our beacon in this day, showing us the direction of the Kingdom. He is The Branch of The Tree of Baha, the "Sadrat-el-Montaha" of the Kingdom. On their spiritual journey souls may suffer all manner of trouble, of privation, and persecution, but there tests only make them firmer and stronger in the Cause as long as they constantly keep their thought directed toward The Center of The Covenant. But, when an enemy comes and chops with an axe to sever the branch of the tree from its root, then every one must arise to protect the tree; otherwise, there will be no guiding beacon for the people, and the souls will become confused and lose their way to God.
From the Tablets it is clearly seen that Abdul Baha wishes the Bahais to be able to distinguish between one who merely opposes the Cause in an open and understood way from one who is apparently friendly, but who in reality subtly seeks to implant superstitions and false doctrines in place of the basic pure truths of religion. Toward those who frankly oppose us we should show forth love and kindness, but we are told to have no relations of any nature whatsoever with those who are hypocrites and subtle back-biters. This is for the protection of the Cause and the well-being and firmness of the religion, and is of essential necessity for the spiritual salvation and well-being of the believers.
During the course of its work, the Committee of Investigation found that many people were vague in their minds regarding the definition of "violation" of The Covenant, some feeling that violation consisted only in the verbal denial of The Center of The Covenant. After a careful study of the holy writings the committee found that there were various forms of violation, such as violating the principles of the Cause through disobedience, through falsehoods, through creating division among the people, and so forth, all of which is treated at length in the said report, together with which is being circulated excerpts from Abdul Baha's Tablets which treat upon this subject.
In a matter of physical combat it is easy for people in general to distinguish the difference in danger between the open and the hidden foe. The enemy who meets one face to face in the open field is not to be dreaded as much as the "sniper," who picks off his prey from ambush or, for instance, the still more dreaded foe who, in the guise of a friend, enters the city by day and under cover at night pollutes the water supply, thus spreading plague and pestilence; or the traitor in the ranks who has it in his power to betray the entire army. In time of war these subtle, treacherous enemies are the most dreaded, end the only way in which an army and a country ran be protected from them is through segregating them from the mass of the nation and the army. Mercy and kindness, and even honor, is bestowed upon the open fighting enemy taken in battle, but no such consideration is bestowed upon spies and traitors. Justice and the safety of all the people demands that these subtle foes be to dealt with that there will be no possible doubt as to the safety of those whom they would victimize.
The true Bahais in spirit form the army of God in the world of today. Their work is to overcome this great power of evil which has so attacked mankind in these days that humanity is plague-stricken, ill unto death, and crying out in agony for the balm of the love of God. The Bahai army goes forth to serve and care for these ill ones, but if in our own ranks we harbor those who themselves are centers of infection, inoculating ourselves with the very diseases which we are seeking to cure in others, we can never accomplish that whereunto we are called, and instead of bringing relief to the world we shall bring greater trouble and confusion on humanity. It is for this reason that we should cling to the true and pure souls and separate from our ranks those who show taints of the violation of the Cause so holy and so dear to us.
In the psychological struggle and warfare of every day it is very few of the people who think, and sufficiently study human nature to know the difference between merely a clash between two wills for supremacy one over the other, and the subtle attacks of one who disregards all moral standards and who, through evil suggestion and machinations, so poisons the minds of victims that they are helpless to protect themselves, and having no chance to save themselves perforce are victim. Therefore, I feel moved to treat to the best of my ability, and at some length, the psychology of violation.
One can find no more well-defined or striking case of the spirit of hypocrisy or violation of friendship in all secular literature than in Shakespeare's "Othello." Here we find a portrayal of human nature, and the working out of the natural morel law of consequences in the psychology of man. By virtue of the clear delineation of its characters the principle of "violation" as applied to purely human relations is here so lucidly presented that "Othello" stands quite unique in fictional tragedy as not being a portrayal of the passion of love, but rather of the passion of one whose life was poisoned by the subtle and insidious suggestions of one who outwardly appeared to be a real friend, but in reality was a snake in the grass.
In most plays and stories of tragedy the fatal ending is due to the
clash of wills, sin, and the inevitable- retribution which justly descends upon the guilty parties, which occasionally extends Also to the suffering of innocent people. Such, however, is not the tragedy of "Othello", for here the poet has entered into the field of hypocrisy or violation, which is quite apart from the principle of direct conflict, as is generally depicted by tragedians. After careful reading, one finds Othello to be perhaps the most heroic of all Shakespeare's characters. That he was a Moor is quite incidental to the story, that fact having no bearing upon the psychology of the plot. He was a man with an exceptionally high and noble character, soldierly, frank, direct, true, and outspoken in his friendship for his comrade Iago, and showing the protecting love and tenderness of a husband toward Desdemona. However, all these qualities which we love and admire, and which made him almost invincible as a soldier in the face of an open enemy, were of no avail whatsoever in protecting him from the fatal hypocrisy of the evil innuendoes and suggestions of Iago, who finally succeeded in completely destroying his confidence in Desdemona, and resulted in the death of Desdemona, himself, and others. Iago's Life was that of the serpent. In writing of the serpent Ruskin says: (Quoted in part from Richard Owen.) "It is the strength of the base element that is so dreadful in the serpent; it is the very omnipotence of the earth . It scarcely breathes with its one lung (the other shrivelled and abortive) it is passive to the sun and shade, and is cold or hot like a stone, yet it can out-climb the monkey, out-swim the fish, out-leap the zebra, out-wrestle the athlete, and crush the tiger. It is a divine hieroglyph of the demoniac power of the earth of the entire earthly nature."
In the drama under consideration there is no struggle or conflict, no fair light between individuals; consequently, there is no hope at all for Iago's victims. From the first they are doomed, as he slowly but persistently weaves his web, injecting the poison of his insidious machinations and evil suggestions into the heart of the helpless Othello, destroying his ideals and character, and making of him a murderer and a suicide.
While the story of "Othello" is purely fictional, not having any known historical basis, it, nevertheless, depicts so clearly and with such awfulness the principles of hypocrisy and violation as applied to human relations that I feel justified in mentioning it in this article. Through an understanding of its psychology a sidelight may be thrown across the path of someone perhaps not wholly awake to the danger of violation, who, through analogy, may see the great danger to humanity through the violation of The Cause of God, a danger not only to the individual souls whose spirit may thus be destroyed, but the great danger to the Abha Cause in general when the contamination of the nakazeen exists within our own ranks.
I had to go through many troubles of my own before I even began to see the necessity for being on the alert to obey the Bahai injunction to avoid hypocrites. The incident which opened my eyes to this danger happened in this wise: Quite a while ago I met a ran with whom I became associated at various times, covering a period of years. He was not particularly pleasant, neither was he unpleasant to me; yet from things which transpired I soon realized that at heart he was my enemy, and this fact both my intuition and my reason confirmed. Moreover, at intervals various friends of mine came to me and warned me against him, saying that they felt that he wished me harm, and they urged me to have nothing to do with him, lest he should get me in trouble. Though vaguely aware that these friends were right in their surmises, yet I laughed at the idea of his being able to harm me, for I did not fear any physical assault, and I was unmindful of the fact that there were other ways by which he might injure me. Thus things continued
until suddenly, very suddenly, I realized how negligent I had been. Surreptitiously he had gone about, and through hints and suggestions, with a false word dropped here and there, like poison in the ears of this friend, and that friend, he had succeeded in destroying their confidence in me. It was only then, when I realized the subtle way in which he had attacked and injured me, that I began to see how unmindful I had been of the principle to hold aloof from those tainted with the least trace of "violation." Since then I have severed all connections with that man, and also with those who associate or are friendly with him. In this way only am I able now to protect myself and be safe from the secret venomous attacks of this individual, who seeks to destroy the confidence of one friend in another, causing dissension and inharmony.
This experience has awakened me to the necessity of being mindful of hidden enemies, all of which I now see set forth in the Bahai "Teaching." When one studies with care these Holy Instructions, one finds that trouble-makers, back-biters, and people who associate with us in the guise of friends in order to sow seeds of sedition, inharmony, and lack of trust among the friends, are violators of the Cause, and their companionship should be avoided and eschewed by the friends.
About four years ago in Washington, D. C., the meetings of the Bahais were being conducted as nearly as possible in conformity with the instructions of Abdul Baha, there being no lines of distinction drawn, all persons being invited to enter the spiritual meetings on an equal footing; but there was one person in the assembly who did not fancy sitting in meeting with certain other persons. She made a stand and began writing letters and speaking to the friends in order to make known her fancied grievance, and to find sympathizers. At first people did not pay much attention to her, but she persisted and continued her work, of sedition until she divided the assembly. She even published articles in the newspapers misstating the Bahai Teachings, in order to try to prove that her stand in relation to the matter was right, and when she had accomplished this much destruction she became very bold and was instrumental in circulating in printed form in all parts of the Bahai world a long anonymous letter, in which, without mentioning names, but through suggestions and innuendoes, she described various Washington friends, attaching to them characteristics and attributes which were only in her own mind, and thus she strove to carry her work of destruction (hitherto confined to Washington) to all parts of the country. At the time of the circulation of that letter I was in Europe, and even among the friends there I found copies of this pernicious document. The only touch of humor which I found in the incident was that in the letter there was a paragraph devoted to attacking me, in which I was described in caricature in a most amusing way. This woman tried to cause a spiritual division and a religious breech between the colored and the white Bahais, and in a measure she accomplished her end, and this was clearly a violation of the Cause.
One noticeable phase of this affair was that some of the Bahais listened to the ideas of this woman, and while these people did not associate or affiliate themselves directly with her, they nevertheless sympathized with some of her ideas, and thus they became the fertile field for the fruition of the seeds of sedition which she planted.
The result of the campaign of this one woman was that the friends were divided, causing a complete disruption of our assembly, and it has taken three years and more of meetings and work to gather together the remnant of our former group, but I am happy to be able to say that the friends of this present nucleus now united, having passed through this storm, are far wiser and stronger than before. Let us hope that this experience has taught us to protect the Cause from
such persons, for had we, in the beginning of this violation, unitedly and with one accord held aloof from this woman she would have been helpless in her attack, and our assembly would have been safe through obeying the command of The Covenant to hold aloof from such souls.
In the Summer of 1912 Abdul Baha, after His visit to Green Acre, was spending a few days in the home of Miss Maria P. Wilson, in Malden, Mass. One afternoon I was in his presence, in company with Mirza Valiollah, the son of Wargha, the martyr, when Abdul Baha questioned me about the friends in Washington. I told him of the meetings, arrangements for teaching, and so on, explaining that some of the friends wished to arrange for a room for teaching, to be open at certain hours of the dry, where the believers could go in turn to teach inquirers, whom, it was hoped, would come. Immediately Abdul Baha spoke, and with much decision said: "But all are not prepared to teach." Then he gave me to understand that those who had a spiritual wisdom and a knowledge of the history and principles of the Cause should do the teaching, while the others should bring seekers to these teachers to be taught.
In several of our assemblies at various times harm has been done through the placing on the platform as speakers and teachers those who were not prepared to do this work in the Bahai way. Many of us recall the "Nutt" and "Thompson" episodes which took place in Chicago some years ago. In these cases sufficient care had not been exercised, and these man, who did not have any real grasp of the Cause or of its spirit, were placed in very prominent positions in the work, and thus afforded every opportunity for the exploitations of the personal ambitions and sel f-aggrandisement which they sought, which eventually caused their downfall, with the accompanying set-back to the spiritual progress of the Cause.
The Bahai Revelation is the Word of God to man, and it contains all the truth and spiritual explanation necessary for humanity for this New Age which has now dawned; therefore, the Bahai teachers have but to study and to understand the truths as revealed, and to give them forth by word and by deed, knowing that this spiritual seed will take root in the hearts of those souls who are prepared for the kingdom. In any scientific or intellectual pursuit or profession a lifetime of study, effort, and labor is required in order to bring forth good results. If this is the case in these mundane pursuits, how much more necessary is it that in the most vital thing in this world, the religion of God, its teachers and disciples should devote themselves unceasingly to perfecting their knowledge, wisdom, and understanding of its principles, in order that they may do good and efficient work in the Lard's Vineyard. When all those who stand forth as teachers in the Bahai Movement have attained to a fundamental knowledge of the Cause the danger of violation will not then be as great as formerly, for they will guard most carefully against it, protecting the pure instructions from any and all foreign ideas.
For the information of. some people I will cite a few instances which have come to my notice, in order to show how harm has been done by uninformed persons who, though possibly sincere, through their blunders have brought false teachings into the Cause, and consequently confusion and a set-back to the Cause.
In no other place, to my knowledge, have so many teachings foreign to the Bahai Cause been given along with the Holy Word as at Green Acre in the past; that is to say, before the work there was taken over by the present board of Bahai trustees, who are now standing upon the principles of The Covenant in their endeavor that nothing, but the reality of truth shall be taught from that platform.
I recall once being at Green Acre when affairs were still under the old order. It was the opening day of the season. Our brother, Harlan Ober, had just returned home from his Bahai mission to India. He gave the Message of The Covenant before a large gathering, telling how it fulfilled the divine prophecies and promises in the religions of the past, and explaining how it met the present-day religious needs of mankind.
It was an inspiring address, and when the speaker had finished a spiritual enthusiasm was very manifest in the audience, but the leader of the meeting did not have a clear Bahai vision; otherwise, a certain Oriental man present would not have been asked to speak. This man represented one of the ancient philosophies of the East. He arose, and with a gentle manner and way which, to the majority present, seemed sympathetic and "spiritual", he quietly but persistently explained away the principles given by our Bahai speaker, in the end actually putting forth that ancient anti-Christian theory that "we are all divine manifestations of God", and all we have to do is to look into our own natures to find that we are infinite and co-eternal with the Creator. Perforce the whole tone of the gathering changed. The people went out, confused in mind and troubled in spirit because of the conflicting thoughts expressed.
This method of conducting meetings was habitual in the early seasons when the Bahai Message was being given in Green Acre, it having been the policy in those lays to give as many different (and consequently conflicting) teachings as possible in the vague hope of in some way harmonizing all philosophies, theologies, and creeds, without discriminating between divine reality upon one hand, as differentiated from arbitrary ideas, imaginations, and superstitions upon the other hand. The inevitable result was confusion of thought and diffusion of purpose which, at the end of a number of years, had produced nothing permanent. Now, however, under the present Bahai direction, the Green Acre conferences have emerged from their former chaotic state, and are being conducted along the constructive lines of the Word of God. Upon this firm basis a new institution of reality is growing, and the friends serving there are taking every precaution to eliminate iron their midst those who would seek to circulate teachings of their own that would be inimical to the development of the spirit and the philosophy of the progressive Cause all the new age.
Violation of the Bahai Cause has at times been perpetrated by those who have something that they wish to "get over", to express it colloquially. Surely nothing could be more directly against the spirit of the Cause, and more deadening to the ideals we are striving to realize, than that anybody should make use of the Cause for any personal ends whatsoever, for this is a direct violation of the principles of Baha'o'llah.
The older Bahais in America will recall that at various times in the past certain persons have tried to exploit their own ideas upon particular subjects through the Bahai Teachings; therefore, they will understand and realize some of the dangers to which the Cause has been subjected. For instance, one man had some extraordinary ideas upon evolution, another some upon astrology, upon the Great Pyramid, and a theory upon the human sexual relation, which at various times were advanced as "Bahai Teaching", all of which caused trouble and the eventual spiritual downfall of these people as exponents of the Bahai Revelation. Efforts have also been made by other people to use the Cause for various forms of propaganda, and while none of these attempts have succeeded, nevertheless, while they were operating the Cause suffered a temporary set-back.
Perhaps the most flagrant attempt to mislead the people of The Covenant, now uppermost in the minds of our people, is that of the so-called "Harmon Teachings"
which for some little time past have been promulgated by a small group of people in and about Boston. As shown in the recently published report of the Bahai Committee of Investigation, these teachings were spread among some of the Bahais ostensibly as helps to elucidation and interpretation of the teachings of Baha'o'llah and Abdul Baha, but as one delved deeply into the study of these doctrines one found that they subtly attacked and denied the very foundation of the Bahai Cause, so that their spread through the Bahai groups was in reality a blow well aimed at the Root and Branch of this Cause, and they were all the more dangerous because they war put forth under the name "Bahai". Whether the upholders of these doctrines were ignorantly or knowingly violating the Bahai Teachings in no way changes the effect of their doctrines upon the Cause, which was, that the Bahai ideals were being destroyed.
The Bahais have voiced no objections to individuals or other organizations putting forth whatsoever teachings they may desire, but when attempts are made to ingraft foreign ideas into our cause, we arise in righteous indignation to protect the Revealed Word. We have love for people of other religions who oppose us and meet us in the field of fair argument, but we do not wish to be associated with those who try to make a sect within our Cause. Truth is truth and admits of no division.
It was said, some years ago, that a party of "German-Americans" went to Berlin and applied as such for presentation at the Imperial Court. The reply given was that if they were Americans they should make their applications through the American Ambassador, and if they were Germans they should make their application through the Imperial Chancellor, but "German-Americans" were not recognized, since they did not come under the established category of nationalities. Can we not apply this reasoning to our own situation, We welcome Bahais in our midst, and we welcome in our midst Harmonites and all other religionists who sail under their own colors, but for the good of the Cause, and its pure ideals so dear to us, we can not allow hyphenated Bahais of any type to come into our Midst, making division and disruption.
I have no doubt that we are all more or less given to romancing. When we find ourselves faced by sordid material conditions not to our liking, from which there is no escape, we naturally turn to the realm of the ideal for solace and relief, for as long as we can live in that realm of thought we are free from the limitations of this material plane of existence.
In the unseen realm or plane of existence, upon the one hand, there is the plane of spiritual reality, or that of the Kingdom of God, while upon the other hand there is the plane of imagination and superstition which has no true reality, and is but a passing mirage of our own thoughts and conceptions as well as those of other people. The general experience of all of us in turning to God's Cause has been that the things of the material world did not satisfy the longing and the craving of our souls; therefore, in turning to the divine reality of the religion of God, and in living in that spiritual realm we find freedom from the world and its false standards. On the other hand, those who turn from materiality in its most material sense and ensconce themselves in the realm of superstitions and imaginations also find a certain relief from material, material conditions so uncongenial to them. These people, however, are merely romancing in their thoughts in a realm which is not real, but imaginary, a realm which begets nothing but confusion of thought, diffusion of one's vital energies, and is not conducive to the real welfare of the individual or of humanity.
How often do we hear the thought expressed that "if one is sincere in one's belief and lives up to it, it matters but little what one believes." It is elf-evident that such ideas emanate from minds which do not think below the surface of things, for the student of psychology or human nature knows right well that the result of the lives of individuals and of peoples is the result of the working out in their lives of the principles of their religion or philosophy. For instance let us consider religion in the ordinarily accepted sense of the term, consisting of a priesthood, dogmas, forms, ceremonies, and so forth. The countries of the world which are most backward in civilization and progress are those where the religions of this type, containing the most superstitions, are dominant, for under these systems the people are kept in ignorance by their religious leaders. Now, on the contrary, we find that in those countries where education, science, progress, and civilization are most advanced, the people are free from the moral domination of a prescribed and dominant religion of superstition. In like manner are the progress and the degree of civilization in other countries directly commensurate with the purity of their religion from superstition and the truths that they teach. True religion comprises a knowledge and an application in the lives of its followers of those moral and divine principles or laws which govern the spiritual advancement of people. Those facts prove that it is of vital importance what we believe.
True religion is not a matter of supposition or conjecture, but is the knowledge and the spirit of the realities of the Divine Kingdom and its basic spiritual laws, manifest to humanity and known and lived by people. Such a religion is bound to bring forth good and high results in the lives of its followers, whereas a religion of superstition is destined in the end to bring forth no food results.
In this strenuous age of physical and moral conflict many souls ere seeking to get away from the sordidness of the material, material world, and these people in vast numbers are turning their attention to non-material things, some to the true reality of religion, and many to the alluring but unreal realms of imagination. The first, which is real, affords a permanent emancipation of souls from bondage, "The second at most affords but a momentary relief of the soul from distress. Let us consider for a moment the growing "Movie" habit of the masses of today, feverish in their desire for the artificially-induced sensations which these photoplays give. For a few cents, for the duration of the reel, the poor working girl, in imagination, is taken into the dreamed of home of luxury, where she is the recipient of the attentions of noble-born and very wealthy gentlemen; while for the same time limit of the reel the middle-aged man, perhaps a clerk who spends his days keeping books by artificial light, imagines himself to be the dashing young hero of some wild-west romance, or the prince of fortune upon whom some fair and beautiful lady is bestowing favor.
Then, too, there are other forms of getting away from one's uncongenial sphere. Many people lead lives in imagination, apart from the daily routine, in story reading and in psycho-occult flights of imagination, which take them into the ethereal realms of mystical speculation and day dreaming peculiar to certain temperaments. Another form of this thought dissipation has been found in ell ages in the following of soothsayers and oracles, and which has attained great proportions in these modern times in "automatic writings" and "communications," through "mediums, " and in the doctrines taught by several modern schools of ancient lore, which have deceived many into believing that if a person can for a sufficiently long time hold in thought a creation of his own imagination he will eventually be able to "demonstrate" it or realize it in the material world of actuality. In these imaginations people, so to speak, "deceive themselves" into spending their lives, in many cases, in the pursuit of an ideal which is pure
superstition, and, consequently, their ideals having no reality their time and vital life forces are wasted, and no lasting good can come from such living. One noticeable thing in such cases is that people who thus delude themselves rarely, it ever, realize their own condition. They are usually "sensitives" and cannot bear disappointment or the mental suffering which this entails. Consequently, the unconscious working of their minds seeks to reinforce and to protect their ideals from the attacking ideas of reality, with their inevitable disillusionment. The individual finds a certain relief from sordid earthly conditions in the imaginary realm which he has created for himself and his mind refuses to lot into his consciousness or to acknowledge that which would cause disillusionment, thus shutting the door to reality.
The reason why I an going so at length into this psychological discussion is to point out certain forms of violation of the Bahai Cause, ignorantly perpetrated, but none-the-less dangerous to the growth and well-being of the Cause, by people who have not distinguished the difference between spiritual reality, and supposition or imagination, in their efforts to teach and to carry on the work of the Cause. Wherever the flow of the pure water of the knowledge and the spirit of truth in religion is contaminated by imaginary theories and superstitions the souls suffer, become confused in thought, and the body spiritual of the Cause as a whole becomes ill and is in danger of disintegration; and until this source of contamination is removed and the body spiritual is purified of such false doctrines the whole Cause is in danger of death or extinction.
In order to further illustrate, I will cite an example of some people who had certain imaginary and romantic hopes and ideas which they tried to realize by endeavoring to make them appeal to some of the Bahais as desirable, and to enlist their sympathies and help in order to carry out certain work, founded upon imagination, thus diverting into fruitless channels Bahai substance and energy which should have been used for the carrying out and the realization of the pure ideals of The Covenant.
In an assembly with which I was once identified, there was a man who never came to the Bahai meetings. He had psychic revelations of things which were going to happen. He saw himself as a great leader of the people, at the head of armies and of political and national affairs. These hopes and aspirations he communicated to some of the Bahais and these people with great ardor espoused his cause. They worked with him long and with steadfastness. They were mistaught and misled to believe that the confirmation of The Center of The Covenant was upon this man whom they expected to see seated in the White House, a potentate of the first magnitude. Furthermore, they believed that the furtherance of the Cause of God awaited the rise of this man to champion it among the nations of the world. Now, the man thought that much money was needed to float his vast projects. He had visions of a big treasure in "ingots" of gold which, hidden in the earth by the great Montezuma in Mexico, awaited to be located by him, not for him personally but only to be appropriated for the uses of his cause of politically reforming the American nation and the world.
It was an inspiring romance to those who believed themselves to be a part of it. After much effort sufficient funds were assembled to form and finance an expedition into the mountainous interior of Mexico to locate and get possession of the anticipated treasure. A party of several men associated with the Bahai Cause made the journey which, though undertaken several years ago before the war trouble in Mexico, was even then not without its Perils. After a long journey by sea end by land these adventurers found themselves in the mountains where, according to the "vision" and "communications", the treasure awaited them. They encountered innumerable difficulties, but by the "psychic sense" were directed to a certain
canyon on a certain hacienda (property), and there they ware led to believe that below a certain pile of stones was the mouth of the cavern (carefully concealed) which contained the great Montezuma treasure in those lands famed far beyond any of the yarns the old sailors tell of Captain Kidd's a secreted wealth.
When the man himself had progressed thus far with his story, I asked him what happened next, and be explained how at that critical moment one of the party had a psychic impression that the time was not ripe to try to unearth the treasure so, guided by the "spirit", they all came back to the States. The man is true to his convictions, for he still believes that the treasure is there, and that some day it will be his to spend upon building great works for humanity, including the founding of a now, capital city for the United States somewhere in the West, there he will sit and rule, and incidentally to spend for the building there of a great Mashrak-el-Askar.
Were I able to recall and recount all the details of this man's dreams and adventures, they would make a most interesting tale of adventure. He had a fertile imagination, and was sincerely consistent in devoting all of his time and energy to the pursuance of his great romance. This matter was kept quiet and within a comparatively small circle of Bahais, so that the fatal consequences of its influence, which diverted the Bahai energy of these people into channels foreign to those of the Cause, was limited to the few who espoused the idea. The pity of it all was that for a period of years some of the people the Cause devoted their precious time, energy, and money toward the realization of this dream which came to naught, thus allowing this unreality to take preference in their lives over the real spiritual work of teaching the Cause which Abdul Baha is calling us to do. The violation of the Cause was owing to this dream being presented by these self-deceived people to certain of the Bahais for support as a Bahai work and service confirmed by Abdul Baha. I was approached several times to use my influence to solicit funds for this enterprise.
I am sure that the friends who are conversant with Abdul Baha's teachings will feel with me that indulging in these flights into the unreal bedim the true spiritual sensibilities and perceptions of the believers, and the friends should protect other friends from all such foreign intrusions.
In Baha'o'llah's sacred writings playing or gambling for money is forbidden, and this principle touches upon one of the most widespread evils of this present day civilization under which we live, for while but few people of all humanity actually play for money stakes, nevertheless, most people through some conventional manoeuver, quite within the law, would like to make a fortune quickly and without actually working for it, and this is the spirit of the gambler in its incipient stage, working in the psychology of man, whereby he is convinced, and perhaps sincerely too, that it is thus morally right for one man to profit, by another man's labor and loss.
The general spirit or ideals of this now popular philosophy of life are clearly seen in the popular short story literature, in the drama, and in the "movie" of the present day. Here is seen the typical hero of the masses, he who by a gambling venture in business, or through some streak of luck, suddenly finds himself in possession of a large fortune out of all proportion to any outlay which he has made of substance or labor.
Few, if any, of us are entirely free from this desire to make much out of a little, since by the generally-accepted moral code of the day, it is considered
right and honorable to do these things, nevertheless, with a little study of the principles of the Bahai Cause it can be clearly seen that this particular phase of the business world of today does not harmonize with the spirit of the Bahais or the ideals which our religion upholds. For this reason, whenever this spirit of the gambler, or of money getting, appears in our assemblies the result in always bad for the Cause. Were the history of the Bahai Cause in America to be written, it would show that upon various occasions people wishing to "make money" have duped the people of the Cause by appealing to the inherent gambling spirit of this day and age, from which in many cases even the most sincere Bahais are unconsciously not altogether free.
I recall an instance in Washington some thirteen or fourteen years ago. A man before the public and prominent as a teacher in the Cause frequented the meetings with a large, heavy, and particularly attractive yellow nugget in his pocket, which he said came from a mine rich in gold which he possessed. Moreover, he represented it as having the blessing and the approval of Abdul Baha, and he stated that all the money coming from it was to be used for the Cause. People were warned by certain of the Bahais not to have anything to do with the affair, but that nugget was an entirely too enticing and alluring a temptation for all to withstand. Even some poor widows bought stock by cash payments, and that man left town with their money, and neither he, the mine, nor the money have been heard of since.
Another venture of a similar nature was foisted upon some of the Bahais by a person in the past, not many years ago, in the form of another mine, in which several of our friends sank money in the hope of making a great fortune for the Cause. This mine also was said to have had the confirmation of Abdul Baha. After much trouble and spiritual lose to the Cause the matter came to naught, all the money was lost, and the friends thus deceived found that Abdul Baha had never been advised of the matter, and that they had been duped.
Of late years some people in New York City conceived the idea of a motor which was to revolutionize every kind of a revolving machine. It was launched as a Bahai concern, and the name Mashrak-el-Askar was coupled with it, for it was said that a certain percentage of the proceeds of the "earnings" of the company would go to the Mashrak-el-Askar, providing the Bahai bought the stock. A number of people were thus deceived by the woman who was promoting the project, people who could ill afford to lose their money. I know of one widow, a Bahai, dependent upon her own efforts for her living, who actually borrowed money to invest in this company. I have had many inquiries regarding this "motor", but those who have put their money into it are now in despair of ever realizing anything on their investment.
There have also been other business ventures, as well as personal projects put forth in the name of the Cause, in which the Bahais have lost everything they invested, but I have cited sufficient data to make it clear that such matters lead but to the material lose of the friends, and to the spiritual confusion of the Cause so dear to us, so that it is not necessary to dwell further upon this particular phase of violation, for whenever such deceptions are perpetrated in the name of Baha it is clearly violation, and the friends should warn others thereof.
Another phase of violation of the Bahai principles has been committed by people who seek money or financial advantage in the name of the Cause, people who, it would seem, expect others to support them. This type of person usually attaches
himself to people of reputed wealth. There have been various well-known cases of this kind in the brief history of the Cause in America. Some of these persons have operated quite extensively, getting money for themselves under various pretexts, causing the dampening of the spirits and ardor of those whom they deceived, and in some cases actually driving them away from the Cause. Surely it is wrong to pass unnoticed such unseemly things without making some definite tangible objective effort to warn people of these impostors, for by remaining silent ourselves we in reality become the accomplices of those who are doing evil, for our silence facilitates the operation of their plots and schemes.
A curious instance of this type of violation for money, where the friends did not warn others, was recently told me in Boston by Mrs. Kinney. It occurred in New York City about fifteen years ago. A man claiming to be a Bahai borrowed money in considerable and increasing sums from several of the friends. He made no attempt to clear his obligations. He continued getting money under false pretenses from others in the assembly. Then these friends took counsel together. One of those present applied to the situation the verse from the Hidden Words. "Breathe not the sins of any one as long as thou art a sinner", and also "Hear no evil, and see no evil... Think not the faults of others to be great, that thine own may not seem great; approve not the abasement of any soul, that thine own abasement may not be exposed." Without consideration these friends thought they should "be kind" to the man and not "expose his faults to others" so it was decided to hush the matter up and to say nothing of it to any one. The result was that the man continued to get money from people whom he met in the meetings, until much trouble and discussion was created and seekers were turned away from the meetings by the presence there of that man. In the end the friends were obliged to come together, and than they very wisely and in conformity with the teachings excluded him from the meetings, so the storm passed, but the Cause suffered, as would not have been the case had the revealed instructions regarding this form of violation been immediately applied as soon as the friends discovered the "first traces" of hypocrisy.
At various times in different of the Bahai Assemblies people have imagined that they received special instructions to do definite things by "telepathic" or "spiritual" communications from Abdul Baha, through spirit mediums, voices, or automatic communications, and in some cases these people have even claimed to have received direct revelations from Baha'o'llah and The First Point, The Bab.
To my knowledge, on several occasions, and in more than one city, some of the believers have been induced to form "concentration circles", in order to secure "spirit revelations" to help to a better understanding of the teachings. Generally, the knowledge of these matters has been kept within a limited circle, so consequently they have not caused any special general agitation among the friends, though in recent months a paper, psychometrically written several years ago by one of the friends, to which originally her own name was attached, fell into the hands of some people who, not realizing that it was only supposed to be a psychic communication, but thinking from the wording of the text that it must comprise Abdul Baha's written words, proceeded to attach his name to the document and hastened to spread it in all parts. Much confusion of thought ensued the moment that this writing was placed among the revealed words. This shows the necessity for keeping the revealed teachings pure from all other teachings.
Recently, only within the past few months, a well-meaning, sincere, but misled woman thought that she had formed an astral connection with Abdul Baha for
the purpose of conveying messages from him to the people in this country and elsewhere. She sent written "Tablets", telegrams, and other messages over Abdul Baha's signature (with her signature attached) to the President of the United States, to General Carranza in Mexico, and to many of the Bahai friends, all of which would have caused much general confusion and trouble had many people taken her seriously. Upon recent information, I understand that she has ceased these activities, but not until she had caused a great disruption among the Bahai circle in the town in which she lived, for her communications were not in harmony with the Holy Teachings. Here is another clear case of violation of the Cause, for we are distinctly taught to circulate as the Holy Writings of The Center of The Covenant only those utterances which are signed by Abdul Baha, and known to be true Bahai Teachings, and thus known to be authentic.
I still have another case in mind which illustrates the bad results of mingling such human phenomena with the teaching. This took place in one of the Atlantic Seaboard cities, where for several years a good deal of Bahai work was done. Teachers repeatedly visited that city, and a group of faithful souls assembled regularly to study and to teach, but the friends there were not sufficiently wide awake to protect the members of the group from one within their own fold. She was a woman who had "psychic revelations", and these she persisted in introducing into the Bahai meetings, until she quite broke up and dispersed that assembly, causing a great deal of trouble. In many cases Bahais are so tender-hearted and loving to every one that they shrink from being firm with those who would thus side track the Cause in these ways, for fear of wounding the feelings of these offending ones, but when we study carefully the teachings of Abdul Baha we find that the Cause must be protected from the destructive influence of such people without regard to their personal pleasure or displeasure.
I once had a very narrow escape myself from the toils set for the unwary young Bahai by an older man of "occult experience", who was than the generally accepted leader in the assembly of friends in Washington, D. C. I was living in Europe when I first heard of the Bahai Revelation, and during a period of three years abroad I had been associated with the Bahai friends there, but later I returned to America, took up my residence in Washington, when I met this older man, to whom I refer. Being enthusiastic in the faith, and without much knowledge of things spiritual, (for in those days we had but a meager and limited Bahai literature from which to glean a knowledge of the principles of the Cause) I looked to this man to teach me many things. He at least looked wise, and was accepted by the Bahais as their leader, always presiding at the meetings, so I naturally accepted his wisdom without question.
Upon various occasions he came to my office to talk to me, and it was an these occasions that I first began to detect something in his influence which was distressing to my soul. I was then trying to build up a professional business and at the same time do some Bahai work. I confided to this man these desires and ambitions, but very cleverly he suggested to me that "were I known to have anything to do with the Bahai Cause it would prejudice people against me," and he reasoned that it was the church people whose influence I needed to help me "get along in the world." From a purely business consideration this reasoning had its appeal, so unsuspectingly I listened. Then he continued to advise me to identify myself with the members of the congregation of a certain fashionable church in the city, frequented by people of reputed wealth, suggesting that in order to get into their good graces it would be well for the time being to sever all Bahai connections and take a prominent part in church and Sunday school activities; nor was this the end of his argument, for he gradually unfolded to me, with an alluring air of mystery calculated to appeal to the imagination of the unsophisticated, certain claims which he had regarding the possession of "occult powers", by the practice of which,
were I to become "his pupil," I could hoodwink those poor unsuspecting "rich church people" into giving me vast commissions, where I would find an extensive field for the practice of my profession, and finally be able to actually "influence" others to give me money without further exerting myself for it. Then after I had accomplished all these things as "his pupil" I would find myself in affluence and then be in a position to "really be of service to the Bahai Cause". Thus he sought to get a certain control over me.
I smile now when I think of how I listened to this old scalawag, but I did listen to him up to a certain point at any rate, and I did this because I took him to be a leading Bahai, for he continually told me that his being in "Our Cause" had resulted in his development of these "spiritual powers" as he called them. As his thoughts entered into my consciousness, I instinctively knew that something was wrong somewhere, so for my own peace of soul I avoided the old man. I now believe it was the guiding spirit of The Covenant that saved me from his machinations for it was not through any knowledge of the teachings of Abdul Baha that I was saved from this trap, for in those days I know nothing about such violation. The immense amount of harm to the Cause which a man of this type could accomplish while travelling under the guise of a Bahai teacher is clearly evident to anyone. He did do much harm to several souls , whom I know, before he went out from the Bahai meetings in Washington. That was a long time ago to be sure, but now I am sure that, had we been endowed with more knowledge in those days, we would have been able to protect the Cause from such souls then violating.
A year or so after this episode I had another experience of a different but at the same time somewhat similar nature, though it came to me in so different a form that I only recognized the similarity after I was freed from the whole affair. In the Assembly where I was at that time there was a very respected and revered Bahai whom I and others looked upon as having much inner or spiritual knowledge. We often talked together and I found enjoyment in her company, though now I recall having had at times a feeling that she was a little abnormal or weird.
As we became better acquainted, she spoke to me about a friend of hers who had great "spiritual" powers, representing him as a Bahai who did not wish to be known as such for "reasons", but who some day would come out into the arena of the activities of the Cause and be heard of far and wide as an "adept" of tile Bahai Cause, but none of the Bahais were to know anything about this person until later.
One night we called to see this man at his home. He proved to be a somewhat pleasing man of about my own age. He had dabbled a bit in psychometry, gave "readings", and was supposed to be versed in the philosophy of the Hindu magicians. We soon got to understand each other quite well, but the Bahai person who took me thither has never, to my knowledge, become "wise" to him, and to others of his type who try to impress themselves and others with the importance of their own "wisdom". The distressing thing for the Cause is that Bahai persons who are off on such tangents are instrumental in confusing the Bahai activities of many people by leading them off on similar quests after "false gods", and all in the name of the Bahai Cause.
Often one who is in reality going against a command of the Covenant is sincere in intention though ignorant of violation. A case of this type came to my notice two or three years ago. In the assembly where I was at that time it had been very difficult to work up any general enthusiasm for the Mashrak-el-Askar, although there were people in the group who here and there as individuals were making real sacrifices in order to send offerings to Chicago. For some time I could not understand the reason for this condition of the lack of interest in the
general assembly in this most important feature of the Bahai work, until one night I had occasion to walk home from a meeting with one of the believers. It was late in the evening, the hour when men are wont to talk over things, that this friend unfolded to me, an invention or plan which he and one or two other members of the assembly had worked up for the making of a vast sum of money which they intended using for the Bahai Cause. It was a perfectly fair and square thing they had in view, he said. No one was to suffer directly or indirectly, by their gain, and he felt confident of success. Although without much confidence in the undertaking, expressed the hope, and with sincerity too, that they would be successful, adding that if so they would be in a position to build the Maskrak-el-Askar. Whereupon my friend assured me that they had already considered this matter, but that one of their number, one who was regarded as prominent in Bahai work in that city, had decided that it was not yet the time for the building of the Mashrak-el-Askar, so they intended to hoard the money they hoped to make, until some future time, when it would be directed toward the building of the Mashrak-el-Askar.
The general inactivity of that assembly in regard to the Mashrak-el-Askar was no longer a mystery, for the most prominent Bahai in the place was unknowingly opposing Abdul Baha's desire that the Mashrak-el-Askar should be built as speedily as possible, and notwithstanding this person's ignorance of the command the influence of this unconscious opposition was there, and was working. Moreover, this condition was further traced to the teacher who had brought this person into the Bahai Cause, for that teacher had a somewhat limited vision, and was never awake to the real importance of the Mashrak-el-Askar, and was even known to have opposed the work and to have tried to influence people against contributing toward its site and building. After much effort and work the Bahai in question in that assembly became informed of Abdul Baha's wishes regarding the early erection of the Mashrakel-Askar, and became entirely freed from that trace of opposition to the will of The Covenant, and did some tangible service for the Mashrak-el-Askar, and there was a decided change for the better in the attempt of that assembly as a whole toward this phase of our work.
My reason for mentioning this episode is two-fold: First, to illustrate that like begets like. A teacher who is firm in The Covenant will bring souls into the Cause who are firm also in The Covenant, and if there are traces of violation in one who is promulgating the Cause, be it willful or ignorant violation, those traces will be spread to others who may be inherently free from it, but who, through this contact, will become contaminated, as in the case which I have just cited, where one person dampened the ardor of an entire group or assembly. Second, my thought is to show how one who is unknowingly under the influence of a thought opposed to the will of The Covenant, when shown by other friends, in the spirit of humility and love, the reality of the command of The Covenant, will sometimes see his or her position, and becoming free from this counter-influence may be firmly established upon the foundation rock of the Cause.
In the past some of the people have not always realized the necessity for holding aloof from those who associate and sympathize with the violators, they being unaware that through association one becomes a violator, be it so consciously or unconsciously. Also, in the past I have known some of the old believers who, thinking their firmness in the Cause to be beyond question, have ventured into such association ill-advisedly, and have had to suffer the consequences, which in some cases have proved spiritually fatal to them. Many of the friends in America will recall the attempted attack of a number of people upon the faith of the friends of The Covenant, which took place in London a few weeks prior to the outbreak of the present war. In this case Abdul Baha himself
through cablegrams and tablets warned the friends against the violator-in-chief of the party and against his relatives, who were with him and in sympathy with his stand.
Until that time the London Bahais had never had any special acquaintance at first hand with the nakazeen, so, as far as direct experience was concerned, they had no knowledge of the matter. One of the attacking party, Mr. Sprague, had violated through association with and espousing the cause of the chief nakaz of the group. For a number of years Mr. Sprague had resided in London, where he had been known far and wide as a Bahai teacher, and where he had formed many friendships with the Bahais and those interested in the Cause. Some of these people, because of their personal friendship and devotion, in their faulty wisdom reasoned that they could receive Sprague into their homes and meetings. Thus the spirit of violation entered into that assembly. This caused the downfall of several of the most prominent figures in the Bahai work in London, who forthwith became the enemies of Abdul Baha, while some others were spiritually depleted and upset by this contact, but were able to sever it just in time to save themselves.
An instance of the poisoning effect of violation was very clearly seen in the case of one of the prominent Bahai leaders in London, who was for several years secretary of the assembly, and who clung to his friendship for Sprague rather than follow the teaching regarding avoiding-the violators. All of this person's former love for and devotion to Abdul Baha turned to rancor and enmity. He wrote a long letter to Abdul Baha, denouncing him in the most bitter terms with words and epithets which a Bahai would shrink from repeating. Then he took this document to various Persians in London, in order to have a translation made to send with the original to Abdul Baha; but none of these Orientals would translate such a tirade addressed to The Center of The Covenant. Then this person forwarded his epistle to the Holy Land, but not before circulating copies of it among certain people in London in order thus to disturb their equanimity. One of those who received a copy of this letter showed it to George Latimer and to me. A few months later, when we both reached Haifa, we learned that Abdul Baha had received the original.
Upon the other hand, those who, with implicit faith obeyed Abdul Baha, were the spiritual pillars of that London assemblage, and the soldiers of Abha. The fight and struggle between the firm ones and the violators was most intense. There was no middle ground upon which anyone could stand, so after a brief season of conflict it was found that every one had chosen a side, a clear and distinct segregation between the wavering and the firm ones was accomplished, and it was from that moment that the real and the new work of the Cause began in London.
Previously, people had mingled with the friends in meetings, putting forth teachings of their own to the extent that the thought in some of the gatherings was most heterogeneous and confused, and the meetings, though large in numbers, were often without poise or fragrance; but this was not so after the Cause was freed from the association of these people, for then the talk and thought of all the gatherings was entirely centered about The Covenant, and through this turning to The Center of the Bahai spiritual power the people became quickened with a now enthusiasm and power to go forth to spread the glad tidings of the Kingdom.
Eleven years ago I was privileged to make a brief pilgrimage to the Fortress of Akka to the presence of Abdul Baha. While there, I met a Persian Aga Seyyed Esmollah by name, who for many years had been associated with the Cause. He was a tall and striking figure among the friends, and I recalled having seen h. in several photographs of groups of Bahais which had been sent to me from the Orient, Particularly in two groups taken at the official laying of the foundation of the
Mashrak-al-Askar of Eshkhabad, in which he occupied a prominent position close to the front of the camera. Aga Esmollah was very kind to me, professing the greatest friendship, and after I returned to America he wrote to me frequently, sending me various little trinkets and keepsakes, souvenirs from the Holy Land, such as are treasured by many of our people. Then, little by little, he began trying to poison my mind against The Center of The Covenant, all the while professing the deepest friendship for me and solicitude for my understanding of the writings of Baha'o'llah and apparently doing me acts of kindness. I had the most perfect confidence in the world in this person, but he grew so bold in his letters that before he had gone very far I saw the condition, which I confided to Mirza Ahmad Sohrab, and we immediately posted his letters and communications to Abdul Baha. Some of these documents received toward the last were much more bold than the earlier ones, so that their intent was quite apparent, but the earlier ones were so subtly calculated to filch from me my faith in God and His Cause that I wonder that I ever understood the situation. The cunning of it all was that it was done in the guise of Bahai friendship.
Some time after this episode I saw Nazimova play "Belladonna", dramatized from Hichen's novel of the same name. In the story the woman Belladonna, tired of the attentions of an idealistic and romantic husband, seeks to put him out of the way through the administering of moderate but frequent doses of sugar of lead. All this time she was professing the greatest love for him, and sympathy for his waning health, as he grew weaker and weaker, dying inch by inch as the deadly drug took its effect. At the eleventh hour the husband's life was saved by the intervention of a friend who managed, with much difficulty, to interrupt this sly process of poisoning. It was an unnatural and a most gruesome tale, but one which I immediately coupled in principle with my experience with Esmollah, for though this story of Belladonna is hypothetical, yet it portrays in the physical what this Persian was trying to accomplish with me upon the spiritual plans. It was fortunate for me that I was at a sufficient distance from this nakaz to have made it difficult for him to observe the affect of his evil suggestions. Thinking that his influence was stronger than it was, he grew so bold that his scheme became so very apparent to me that much of the element of danger was thereby eliminated.
One can forgive and even forget when having been taken advantage of in a monitary way, for it is understandable how one person may be led through material need or false considerations to take from another his money, from which in turn the thief may reap at least a material return; but it is impossible to forget such an experience as the one to which I refer, where one violates all truth and standards of friendship, and tries through subtle calumny and lies to rob another of his faith in his religion, for here the innocent one loses his greatest and most cherished possession, through the destruction of which the violator gains nothing.
During the recent work of the investigators of the affair of violation centered in Chicago, there were some of our friends who thought that the Committee ought to seek to unify all the people instead of trying to separate the violators from the firm ones, and that we should through spiritual kindness and by treating them with "love" and "consideration" seek to lot the "light of The Covenant" work in their hearts, and thus change their evil ways. These friends were then not altogether clear it their minds as to the teachings of The Covenant upon this matter, for we are taught that no amount of kindness or spiritual teaching will avail with souls infected with violation, for until the source of this trouble is eliminated the fate and doom of the souls are sealed.
In the fictitious case of poisoning which I have just cited the deceived
husband was being cared for and fed upon the best of well-prepared foods. His surroundings and circumstances in life were decidedly conducive to his health, well-being, and happiness, except for the regular administration of the poison, over which no amount of good food, f rest air, and other good things, had the slightest effect. The only thing which possibly could have saved his life was the cessation of these doses of poison, and this his friend accomplished, and thus he was saved.
As we study the Bahai Teaching, do we not find in Abdul Baha's own words that the Holy Spirit and the teachings of The Covenant have no effect upon the minds and souls of the violators? Are we not taught that the only thing to do in to warn others and to sever all connections from those who are associated with these people?
A number of years ago I heard a story of come small boys, in a certain neighborhood, whose amusement it was to place small but very tight-fitting rubber bands about the tails of dogs, the bands being adjusted close to the bodies of the animals, and their hair carefully arranged so that the bands were not visible. Of course, at first the dogs objected, and obviously so, but soon they subsided and the hapless quadrupeds manifested no further concern. However after some days of this interrupted circulation of blood the tails ceased to wag, drooped, and finally, one by one, dropped off. Then their owners realized what had been going on, but, alas, it was too late, for the mischief had been done. As in the case of these dogs, in many other forms of interrupted blood circulation causing gangrenous poisoning, after the victim has become accustomed to the first effects he feels no particular discomfort until things have gone too far to be remedied. So it is sometimes with the influence of the nakazeen poison, for this spiritual poison works subtly, and like a cancerous growth gets its hold upon the soul before the person is aware of the disease..
I recall going to Montreal, Canada, in company with George Latimer in December, 1914, only a few months after our experience with the notorious nakazeen affair in London. Matters in Montreal were in a very bad way among the Bahais, and some of the friends were awakening to the real cause of the spiritual illness of their group . In their midst was one of the old end well-known persons of the Movement who had travelled extensively and was known throughout the Bahai world. It seems that this man had been in London during the affair there, and during a period of two months had been closely and intimately associated with the leaders there of the violation movement. Some weeks prior to our meeting in Montreal he had gone there, and with an activity unusual for him had entered the meetings, and gone about mingling with the friends of the assembly. He talked continually about "unity" and about "loving everyone", and of the abolition of all prejudices of whatsoever nature we might encounter, but everywhere he went he disturbed the faith of the friends in The Center of The Covenant, while seemingly he was preaching the doctrines of Abdul Baha. By appointment one day, George Latimer and I went to talk with this man, hoping to get him to make a definite statement of his real attitude, thus far hidden, but which was suspected by several persons, and which was causing so much trouble. He received us very graciously, and as a prelude to the interview told us that he hoped that we would "understand and appreciate" his attitude in this "controversy" between Abdul Baha and these nakazeen in London, mentioning their names, and begging us to realize that his attitude was quite "neutral". In other words, as he expressed it, he was "on the fence".
As he evinced no desire to come down off "the fence" onto the firm ground of The Covenant, and as he opposed all our arguments, after a brief interview we left him, and I have not heard of him since. The friends of the Montreal
Assembly forthwith separated themselves from this man and immediately there was a change for the better in the spirit of their meetings, and now the spiritual fragrances emanating from that group are recognized and their influence is felt by the friends in the most distant assemblies of the Cause.
In this day, when the foundation of humanity is being shaken by the forces of enmity, hatred, and war, it is not to be wondered at that the faith of the friends who have espoused the principles of universal world brotherhood in the Bahai Cause should be sorely tested and tried. Amid all this heated fury of prejudice and animosity we are standing with nothing but love in our hearts toward all humanity, and to this state of spiritual realization of God's Kingdom on earth Abdul Baha calls us. Our Cause is universal. It holds its members in its fold the world around in whatever country, or under whatever law they may dwell. This spiritual love which unites us is the love of The Covenant. Whatever enters into our hearts in the way of enmity, hatred, or prejudice, to crush out that divine love is an indication that a force opposing the Cause of The Covenant is there, and we should be very zealous in keeping out from our meetings anything which savors of political propaganda.
We are sure that there is a divine wisdom in everything Abdul Baha does, as well as the things which he does not do. In his wisdom he has seen fit not to express himself upon the political questions now agitating the world. These are political and not religious matters. Therefore, in our spiritual work should we not all follow his lead in this respect? Is it not unwise for those who stand in the spiritual meetings as Bahai teachers to express personal opinions about these political problems? If we can answer questions from Abdul Baha's words, all will be well, but if we have not such definite statements upon the points in question, it is undoubtedly better that we withhold from giving opinions, rather than attempt to give explanations and make statements which will go forth under the Bahai name and which cannot be substantiated from the holy utterances. Abdul Baha is all-seeing and has a vision beyond present-day conditions. He is ministering to the human conditions and problems of the future, as well as, to problems and conditions of the present. When we, his followers, undertake to minister to conditions about us our only firm ground is to follow minutely the words and the spirit of his teaching. Though we, in our human desire may be sincere and well-intentioned, if in word or spirit we deviate from that of The Center of The Covenant we become a danger to the Cause.
Genuine Bahais have no prejudice or enmity in their hearts. The Christ commanded the people to "render unto Caesar those things which were Caesar's, and unto God the things which were God's," and in like manner Abdul Baha commands us to abide by the laws of the country in which we live, and to be engaged in the service of the Cause of Baha'o'llah, diffusing such a spirit of love that all prejudice between religions, nations, races, and classes of people will be transmuted into love and affection. Abdul Baha wishes us to love enemies, friends, foreigners, and our native people all alike. His wish is that through the love of the Kingdom we may penetrate all hearts and lead them to The Divine Covenant of Baha'o'llah,
so that they will find the light of this new Divine Age. If we are touched by the spirit of antagonism, we cannot convey the spiritual bounty of God to others, for by harboring enmity we are cut off from the spiritual bounty ourselves, so have nothing to impart to those who are hungering for this spiritual sustenance.
The Bahai Cause is clear and specific in its spirit and teaching. Its books and writings are circulated in several languages, so that anyone wishing to investigate and study its principles will find abundant data on the subject. Therefore, one questions the necessity as well as the advisability of the Bahais making statements which have to do with politics, for in avoiding such issues we are carrying out Abdul Baha's instructions, and this alone will protect from harmful influences the Cause which is so dear to us.
Some years ago while travelling in the Levant in association with a group of Persian Bahais I witnessed a phase of protection of the Cause then quite new to me, and one which I have often thought it would be well under some conditions for us here in the West to emulate. I was then in company with other believers, at the place of business of one of the Oriental Bahais, when there entered a young Mohammedan, quite richly dressed and of pleasing approach. He seemed to know I was a Bahai and immediately began telling me how much he thought of the believers, and how much he had wanted to meet an American Bahai, and, somewhat to my surprise, began plying me with questions about the Cause, questions of such an elementary nature that I was astonished to learn that he had not been instructed by these Oriental Bahais in the principles of our religion.
Later, after the young man had left the group, one of the Persians explained their reason for silence. It seems that the young Mohammedan in question had a reputation for immorality, notoriously so in that town, although he had a kind and friendly nature, and was liked by people generally for these good qualities. He admired the Bahais very much, and among his Moslem friends never lost an opportunity to praise the Cause and speak a good word for the Bahais, but the Bahais felt that if he were to declare himself as a believer in the Bahai Cause the people, whom he was attracting, would then hold the Cause responsible for his notorious acts, and, realizing that he could serve better on the outside of the meetings than as an avowed member of the group, they did not attempt to bring him into the full knowledge of the Cause before being assured that he would sever connections with his past associates. One of the believers said to me in conclusion, as I recall his words: "We love him very much and we labor with him and pray for him continually. It is for his own protection, as well as for that of the Cause here that we are treating him thus. He is doing good service for the Cause, and this will not go unrewarded. Perchance, God willing, he may change his ways."
Since this experience in the Orient, I have met some people here in the Occident who, for various reasons, temperamental and otherwise, could do better work on the outside of the Cause telling people of the teachings, rather than expounding the principles in the meetings from the stand of a generally-accepted Bahai teacher. I have no doubt that the time will come when the friends in our western assemblies will be so united and wise that they will be guided into alloting to each person that phase of service which each one is best fitted to perform, thus insuring greater efficiency, purer teaching, and better spiritual results in our work.
One of the species or forms of opposition to the Cause is the soul who resents the divine principle of the Revealed Word. When this stand is frankly, openly taken by a person, we know where that person stands, and can meet such a one, but when a stand is taken in secret and scads of doubt are planted in the hearts of the people, then that one becomes a danger to the work which we are all striving to do.
Generally speaking, all philosophic or religious teaching can be divided into two types: (a) revealed religions, such as, in their purity, were Judaism, Christianity, and others, and (b) evolved religions, or, more properly speaking, those philosophies which are not traceable to the revelation of a prophet, but which are ethnic in origin, being compounded from the thoughts of many individuals until, though human in origin, they are impersonal.
Toward this latter type of thought many people have drifted in these latter days when "knowledge is increased" and many are "running to and fro," and it is from these human forms of thought that the Bahais are calling the world to recognize and accept the Revealed Word of God as the source from which religion in its purity has come to mankind.
In our work we find that the people of the world in general are attracted to the general philosophic principles of the Cause. The light attracts, but we also find that souls only become confirmed in the Cause when they recognize the "Point of Revelation" from which this spiritual power, peculiar to the Cause, is being radiated to all who attach themselves firmly to The Center of The Covenant.
It was so in the days of the revelations of the past. Jesus, The Christ, in His day, attracted vast multitudes to the general principles of His Religion, but from these there came only a small handful of people, his men disciples, and a few women mentioned in the texts of the New Testament, who during His mission upon earth recognized Him to be The Christ, the Son of The Living God. It was these few who know the divine station of The Christ who went forth giving His Truth to the nations of the world, for they alone were able to connect the people with Jesus by preaching to them the message of the revelation of "The Christ, The Revealed Word." Thus as the people turned to the Revealed Word in Jesus they became confirmed, for through Him they contacted with God, and became quickened with the awakening spirit of the Kingdom.
It is found in this day that many people unawakened spiritually naturally resent the doctrine of the "Manifested Word" or the "Incarnate Christ." In other words, the spirit of anti-Christ is abroad everywhere. Some people when questioned, who perhaps may bear the name Christian, are often found to be vague upon this point, which is the very foundation of God's religion, for it has been found that while the Manifestation of God is the point of guidance to the believer after one is confirmed, the Manifestation is also the point of the greatest test to those who are yet in doubt. In the days of Jesus the Jews did not object to the principles which He taught, but they did object to His being The Christ, the Promised One, and because He proclaimed Himself to be The Manifest Word of God they crucified him.
Of all the religious movements in the world, I know none upon which the people place more stress than do the Bahais upon the Revealed Word, and there is no body of people who take a stronger stand against the spirit of anti-Christ than they do. Basically speaking, the spiritual war which Bahais are now waging against the spiritual darkness of the world is the struggle of The Christ against the anti-Christ spirit in its many forms. As long as our people within them
selves are strong in the Lord and in His Manifestation as their point of guidance, they will conquer through His strength, but if they open the doors of our assemblies to ideas and teachings which are contrary to this reality, the work of our assemblies will end in the chaotic frustration of our ideals; therefore, when we discover the traces of this spirit in one who professes to be a Bahai, we should protect the Cause from contamination from that source.
Assemblies are not all the same. Some are more fragrant and more spiritual than others, and this condition is directly proportionate to the purity and strength of the faith of the believers in The Center of the Covenant.
Several years ago I had occasion to visit an assembly where much work of a certain kind had been done and large meetings had been held. I had been advertised to make an address at one of the meetings, and a goodly number of people were gathered there, but just before the meeting was to begin I was quietly taken aside and requested not to make any mention of "The Revelation" or "The Covenant," but simply to talk about the "Broad and Universal Principles of Abdul Baha." Such the plan upon which the work there had been conducted for years, and all without the anticipated results, for the people heard of the Cause in name only. There was no confirmation, because "The Center" from which confirmation comes had always been ignored. Happily, since the time of that experience one who is strong in The Center of The Covenant and who is teaching Abdul Baha to the people has gone to that city, and now there is a group of strong and firm Bahais.
I once had another experience demonstrating this principle, but from the reverse standpoint, from good to bad instead of from bad to good. It was shortly before the outbreak of the great European war that it was my privilege to visit an assembly in a certain city in company with George Latimer. Originally this city had contained a glorious Bahai Center of spiritual radiance and divine confirmations, and this was because the teaching was first given there by one who was firm in The Center of The Covenant. As the seed of reality was sown in the hearts of the people, they blossomed forth into fragrant Bahais, and the good work continued, but, after some years, the original teacher of that group left and went to live in a distant country, and then there came into that group of friends those who did not realize the station of The Center of The Covenant. They put forth their own ideas and gradually that gathering lost its former spiritual power and fragrance, until its meetings became a sort of "open forum", where all kinds of ideas, mundane and philosophic, were discussed. One who has witnessed such spiritual disintegration and death as this case presented needs no further argument in order to be convinced of the necessity of friends avoiding the association of all wavering souls whose influence would tend to destroy the faith of the people in the station of The Center of The Covenant.
As is so clearly explained in the Revealed Teachings, the Manifestation of the Spirit of God in man is the source of all divine comprehension and spiritual quickening. Therefore, it has been necessary for the people to turn to these points or centers of guidance in order thst they might be quickened and attain to the state of religious wisdom and comprehension to which the prophets called them. All the teachings and divine forces which draw and spiritually attached the souls to the "Word" manifested in the Manifestations was of the truth and caused their firmness and their divine confirmation; whereas, on the contrary, all teachings and human forces which repelled and separated the souls from the Word manifested in the Manifestations was against the truth and caused spiritual stagnation and death. Hence the necessity for the many revealed admonitions to the people of God urging them to protect themselves and others from evil working forces.
In this great day Abdul Baha is the pulsating heart of the Bahai Cause
throughout the world. His spiritual power is the Word and Spirit manifested in Baha'o'llah, and through Him the Bahais receive their spiritual quickening force and power in the same way that the various organs of the body receive their strength and vitality from the blood flowing to each of the members of the body from the physical heart. The health, strength, and well-being of each organ of the body depends upon the arterial flow of blood to that organ, for if this is reduced, or cut off, there is an equal diminution and cessation of the supply of energy and vital life-force which that organ receives from the heart and upon which it is wholly dependent for its existence.
The spiritual health, strength, and well-being of Bahais is directly proportionate to their degree of connection with The Center of The Covenant of Baha'o'llah, since it is through this Center that the Spirit of Abha is now proceeding to us. Therefore, it is most necessary to our spiritual welfare that we allow nothing to interfere between us and Abdul Baha, for if we are separated or cut off from him we are sure to lose the flow of vital spiritual force which should be ours, and instead of receiving spiritual blessings we are destined to become as dead and decaying members of the divine body of the Cause of Baha in the world.
Jesus taught His followers to be "wise as serpents and as harmless as doves," in the pursuance of their spiritual work. Again. in this day, the Bahai Revelators have cautioned the believers, exhorting them to be on the alert for hypocrites who may enter into our midst, sawing seeds of sedition, spreading false teachings, and promulgating personal desires which disrupt the Cause by bringing confusion to the friends and disruption of the spirit, of Abha, wherein lies the Bahai strength and the virtue of the Kingdom. Therefore, it may be well for us to know in detail how some people have harmed the Bahai Cause. Without doubt in some cases this violation has been practised ignorantly, without evil intentions, or malice a forethought, but this is not any less "violation of the Cause." As far as the Cause is concerned, the harm will be done just the same, and Abdul Baha exhorts us to be always on the alert to protect and keep pure from contamination the Holy Teachings of The Covenant.
As one studies the history of the Bahai Cause, it is clearly seen that as the Movement grows its various principles, successively and in the order of their importance, present themselves for consideration and solution, and the well-being and strength of the Cause depends upon the friends considering the most important subject at the time of its greatest importance.
For instance, let us consider the general spread of these teachings in America. When the call first went forth, now over twenty years ago, it was the call of The Covenant to the people, although at that time it was in a form only elementary as compared with our present teachings, now so much richer in the revealed words and principles, which in the beginning were translated in but few instances and circulated only in a limited way. Notwithstanding this, however, the spiritual confirmation of the friends in the Bahai Cause came to the people in proportion to the extent to which they turned toward The Center of the Covenant. Then there was a period of a few years when a number of the friends became vague upon the point of the definition of "The Center." Some taught that Abdul Baha was only "one of the disciples" of Baha'o'llah, though of course the "greatest among us", but not different from us save in degree; such, for instance, as St. Peter in the Christian dispensation.
For a long time such ideas were diffused among our assemblies, with the inevitable result that the spiritual connection of many with The Center of The Covenant was so reduced that spiritual weakness and lassitude and much confusion and inharmony resulted, thus demonstrating that there was a point of obstruction
in the flow of the Bahai Spirit, causing a leakage of the vital force of the Cause. So matters continued thus until The Beloved Center of The Covenant came to America. He came clad in the mantle of humility and servitude. He was everywhere heralded as the "Servant of God" and of the people, and was always given this title, which he had chosen for himself in order that he might reach the hearts of the people. He tarried with us in this country for eight months, during which time he served the people with all the humility of the Kingdom of God, but during this time the power of Baha'o'llah was working out from The Center of The Covenant, and through Abdul Baha's servitude at the Holy Threshold and humility before all the people, souls were being penetrated by the power of The Covenant, were being infused by the spirit of The Covenant, and were being quickened by that awakening spirit which proceeds from The Center of The Covenant. After the Beloved had left our continent the awakening came. The Center of The Covenant was proclaimed and was upon every one's lips. Many became awakened, and turned to Him whom God had chosen, and visible results of this "realization" and "centering" were quite manifest in all the assemblies throughout the country.
These events happened over live years ago, and during the latter portion of this time the friends in various parts have become aware of certain matters abroad among the Bahais, such as the circulation of false teachings, the going against the letter of the instructions, and the disregard of the spirit of the Cause by people in our midst who are working for self-interest. Consequently now the most important thing to be accomplished is the clearing and the purging of the work of all these foreign elements so inimical to the growth of the Cause.
With regard to these many and various outside issues which have been foisted upon the Bahais in the name of the Cause many of us (I include myself, for had I not been guilty often of this misdemeanor, perhaps I would not now realize this danger) have in the past thought that nothing could affect the growth of the Cause of God . Therefore, we felt no particular responsibility, and, as a matter of course on many occasions allowed these many violations to continue right in our own groups and assemblies without arising to do anything to free the Movement from this dross. However, now we are gaining in wisdom and we are beginning to know the danger of allowing human personal ideas and opinions to be grafted into the principles of the Cause. We can trace the working out of these wrong principles in past dispensations. For instance, the early Christians made compromises with the people whom they converted, hoping thus by introducing certain foreign ideas and ceremonies to attract the people, while the result was that the pure teaching of The Christ became contaminated, and inharmony and terrible wars ensued, all of which would not have happened had the people clung only to the pure and unadulterpted "Word of God." Let us be admonished by this experience of the early Christians!
I acknowledge that my perceptions have not been sufficiently keen in the past for me to have realized the great danger and the impediment to the progress of the Cause arising from the association and affiliation of the Bahais with people who in the name of Abha give forth false teachings, seek personal aggrandisement, make division among the friends, or try by various pretexts to get money from them. However, now I see some of my past omissions, end through this article which I in now writing I hope to help others to see what I now see, for it is very clear to me from the writings of The Canter of The Covenant that He wishes us to shoulder responsibility and to guard and protect the friends of God from highwaymen, robbers, and wolves circulating in our midst in the guise of "the faithful."
In this article I have purposely left out the names of places and people in mentioning and relating some of the various episodes in the assemblies. This intentional omission has been made in order that the feelings of no one may be
unnecessarily disturbed or hurt. I have related these episodes, which are now history and almost forgotten, in order to bring out certain principles and examples of their application for the enlightenment of others, hoping that this may be a. means for avoiding similar conditions which may arise in the future, for it is only through profiting by the mistakes of the past that we can avoid continuing to make the same mistakes in the future. In alluding to certain cases wherein the Cause has suffered much I am not trying to reopen old wounds now healed over, but my desire is to explain these matters to those of the Bahais whom this article will reach, in order that they may profit by knowing these things, and therefore be enabled to protect the Cause when it is again similarly assailed, for unless we profit by past experiences we will always be in danger of the same old evils.
When we consider all the poisonous foreign matter which has crept into the Bahai teachings in America and has in some cases remained there for a period of time, the wonder is that the Cause has spread with the degree of vitality that it has so far manifested, but it is the general consensus of opinion among the firm Bahais that now the time has come in the spiritual development of the Moverent when the body spiritual in America must either cast off all this foreign impediment and poison or else the work thus far accomplished will go for nothing, and the vital spirit of the Movement on our continent will die.
Events in the Bahai Cause, such as have been shown up in the recently published report of the Bahai Committee of Investigation, are quite sufficient to demonstrate to all that the time is now at hand for all the believers to arise unitedly to protect the friends from all false teachings, disobedience to the ordinances of the Cause, and the dissemination of the spirit of delusion, hypocrisy, and disloyalty to the Cause, which bring in their wake spiritual disaster, sickness, and death.
Now that we are all awake to the present vital issue in the Bahai Cause in America, let all the firm friends who have come through these fires of tests unite in the fullness of the love of The Covenant, rejoicing in the Cause to which God in His bounty and mercy has called us, to go forth to give this Message to the world!
The whole world is heart-sick, and nothing but the balm of the love of God will heal its wounds and cure its diseases, So let us go forth unitedly, as many souls in one body, a solid phalanx moving as one unit under the guiding spirit and the revealed instructions of The Center of the Covenant, to accomplish His will in the world.
We in America have not yet fully arisen to the call of Abdul Baha issued in the five Tablets, to teach in all parts of this country. It was due to the inner weakness of the Bahai Body Spiritual in America that in the past w were unable to accomplish this command of The Covenant, but now through applying the remedy revealed by the Great Divine Physician an operation has been performed, the poison has been removed from our body, end we are now strong and vigorous in his strength. Therefore, let us make haste to take our places in the open arena of the Cause, armed with the love of Abdul Baha for one another, to give to ell humanity, regardless of religion, race, or nationality, the glad tidings of the coming of the Lord and the establishment of His Cause Triumphant here upon earth.
CHARLES MASON REMEY
Washington, D. C.,