Monday, April 1, 1912
[aboard the Cedric]
A narrow-minded clergymen on board came to visit the Master. `Abdu'l-Bahá spoke extensively to this visitor according to his capacity and discussed in detail the problems of people who veil themselves from reality. The visitor left Him most reverently.
The health of the Master is improving daily. The sea has become even more calm and the winds more favorable and the friends and companions are even more honored and thankful to be in His court of bounty and favor.
In the afternoon, as `Abdu'l-Bahá was walking in front of His cabin, Mr and Mrs Austin joined Him. They told Him about the founder of the famous school in Rome, Mrs Montessori. The majority of the students are orphans whose parents perished in the earthquake in Messina. She has managed the school in such a way that now most of the schools in Europe and America are following her standards. `Abdu'l-Bahá said:
The more the Catholics showed prejudice, the more they were debased. Only now have they shown willingness to accept the new measures. Otherwise, these persons are the most prejudiced of all religions. At present, in every quarter of Paris, the Catholic clergymen observe only trifling religious rituals. Officially they are engaged in attending to funerals and other ceremonies and have nothing at all to do with other matters. God has disgraced the ministers of religions. Whatever they do debases them more and more. The decay of the nations and the degradation of the people have always proceeded from the ministers of religion.
Tuesday, April 2, 1912
[aboard the Cedric]
The Master again spoke on the subject of the spiritual illness and self-serving motives of the heads of various religions. One of the friends asked Him about the leaders and Hands of the Cause in this Dispensation. He said:
The Blessed Perfection has extirpated superstitions, root and branch. The Hands of the Cause in this dispensation are not heirs to any name or title; rather, they are sanctified souls, the rays of whose holiness and spirituality throw light on the hearts of all. Hearts are attracted by the beauty of their morals, the sincerity of their intentions, and their sense of equity and justice. Souls are involuntarily enamored of their praiseworthy morals and laudable attributes. Faces turn in spontaneous attraction to their outstanding qualities and actions. `Hand of the Cause' is not a title that may be awarded to whomever it may please to have it, nor is it a chair of honor upon which whoever wishes may sit. The Hands of the Cause are the hands of God. Therefore, whomsoever is the servant and promoter of the Word of God, he is the hand of God. The object is a matter of the spirit and not one of letters or words. The more self-effacing one is, the more assisted he is in the Cause of God; and the more meek and humble, the nearer he is to God.
`Abdu'l-Bahá took His midday meal in His cabin. In the afternoon He invited the believers and the Western ladies for tea in the library, serving them tea and sweets. He then spoke to them about various types of transportation such as ships, trains, carriages and so on. `They are', He said, `good for long and tedious journeys; but for recreation and holiday trips, horseback riding in the spring season in the country, which is full of flowers and green foliage and sparkling waters, is the best of all, and gives a unique pleasure.' The friends also spoke about dirigibles and airplanes. `Abdu'l-Bahá said:
Those who have provided the means for transporting arms and ammunition and the instruments of wars and massacres on earth will do so in the air. There will come to exist such instruments as to cause all the means of destruction in the past to be looked upon as children's playthings.
At the table that night Mr Woodcock asked about the difference between the soul and the spirit. `Abdu'l-Bahá said:
The soul is a link between the body and the spirit. It receives bounties and virtues from the spirit and gives them to the body just as the outward senses carry to the inward senses what they receive from the outer world in order that it may remain deposited in the memory and may be made serviceable by man through his power.
Wednesday, April 3, 1912
[aboard the Cedric]
Gibraltar, an important naval center for the European powers, came into view and the steamer entered the straits. `Abdu'l-Bahá looked towards the left with field glasses. He then spoke about Gibraltar, Spain, Algiers and about the Muslim victories, giving an account of their sincere religious leaders. `What a magnificent honor', He said, `God bestowed on the Muslims in the beginning, and what a disgrace they accepted for themselves in the end.'
Our American friends requested that the Master ask us, the Persians, to alter our attire to suit the circumstances of the time and place, changing everything except our Persian hats and coats. He replied, `What harm is there in it? I do not care much about what is unimportant and what is not harmful to the Cause. They are trifles.' Then He began to stroll back and forth, as was His custom every morning and evening on the deck, and continued to speak:
In past ages crossing the ocean was not as easy as it is now. Up to the present time no one has traveled, with a purpose like ours, from Persia to America. Some have made the journey but it was for their personal gain or for trivial motives. Ours may be said to be the first voyage of Easterners to America. I have strong hopes of divine assistance -- that He will open the doors of victory and conquest on all sides. Today, all the nations of the world are vanquished, and victory and glory revolve around the servants of the Blessed Perfection. All aims will come to naught except this mighty aim. Hardship and debasement in this path are, therefore, comfort and honor, and affliction a blessing.
Thursday, April 4, 1912
[aboard the Cedric]
The Master was slightly indisposed today. He took a little mineral water. Later in the day the conversation was mainly about Columbus, who, intending to reach India, traveled by sea in a straight line from east to west, and, on reaching land, found himself on the shores of the American continent. `Really,' `Abdu'l-Bahá said, `how much trouble these people undergo merely for outward benefits. How many lives have been lost only in an effort to explore the North Pole and for worldly renown.' He related a story:
Once one of the Europeans fell overboard in a storm at sea and his fellow passengers saved him. However, he lamented to himself, `Oh, why wasn't I drowned so that the publications of the incident in the newspapers would have spread my name in all countries?' These people accept death for trifling affairs but they never take a step in the path of the Cause of God.
Then the Master spoke about Nabíl-i-Zarandí, saying, `The true worth of such personages will be appreciated in the future.' He described the disloyalty of the Covenant-breakers and the people of sedition. Later that afternoon, He revealed a long Tablet in honor of Afnán-i-Yazdí.
For dinner a little soup especially prepared for `Abdu'l-Bahá was brought to the table. His general condition improved after dinner and He sat on the deck for a long time. That night He praised the music, which is always heard after breakfast and dinner, and He sent the musicians four pounds as a tip.
Friday, April 5, 1912
[aboard the Cedric]
Very early in the morning the Master called some of us to His cabin and said that He was tired. After taking a bath and drinking some tea He felt better and came out of His cabin. The weather was fine and the sea very calm. In the distance one could see the Atlantic islands. The Master strolled up and down the deck observing the islands through field glasses. He breakfasted in His cabin on chicken cooked especially for Him.
In the afternoon some of the friends and other passengers gathered around Him in the salon. Among them was an American gentlemen, a newspaper publisher. The conversation with him was first about Persia and then he inquired about `Abdu'l-Bahá's journey. `Abdu'l-Bahá replied:
I am going to America at the invitation of peace congresses, as the fundamental principles of this Cause are universal peace, the oneness of the world of humanity and the equality of the rights of men. As this age is the age of lights and the century of mysteries, this lofty purpose is sure to be universally acknowledged and this Most Mighty Cause is certain to embrace the East and the West.
The Master's talk was very expressive and the listeners were delighted, especially the newspaper publisher, who said farewell to the Master with the utmost reverence. He even wanted to kiss the Master's hand but `Abdu'l-Bahá stopped him and instead gave him His own prayer beads.9
Day by day the admiration of the passengers and the ship's personnel for the Master increases. Whenever they pass by Him, they bow, removing their hats in respect. After supper the Master sat for awhile and spoke about a universal language.
Saturday, April 6, 1912
[aboard the Cedric]
While having tea in His cabin `Abdu'l-Bahá gave instructions concerning our arrival in New York City: `We shall reach New York in a few days. We shall stay in hotels at each place and not trouble the believers. However, if meetings are arranged in their homes, it will not matter.' He continued, `Go to the table and have your tea.'
The Master spent the morning writing Tablets until noon and then went to the dining room table. He was asked for guidance about food. He said, `We shall not interfere with their bodily food. Our concern is with spiritual food.'
In the afternoon He invited the Western friends to His presence and related a history of the Cause and the difficulties and persecutions of the early days. One the Tablets revealed today was a long prayer, a Tablet of visitation in honor of Hájí Muhammad-Taqí, the Afnán, and another was a Tablet in His own hand. Regarding this Tablet He summoned us, saying:
Come here and consider this important question. A person from T
ihrán has written that the Universal Will is always manifest; that is to say, God is always manifest in human form. I have sent him an emphatic reply and urge you also to remember that between two Manifestations there are days of concealment. There is no doubt that for the Sun of Reality there is no rising or setting in its own sanctified center but, owing to the exigencies of the contingent world, it rises and sets. Those persons who say in the days of concealment and interval that God is manifest in human form and that `He always shows Himself in different forms like an artful beloved'10
are the sources of difference in the Cause and create discord among the people. All these evasive statements of theirs are mere pretensions. Their only object is to get themselves known as persons in whom divine signs are centered. We must, therefore, adhere to the explicit text, to the literal meaning of what is written in the Tablets, and must not deviate from this even to a hair's breadth.
While walking in the stern of the ship in the afternoon `Abdu'l-Bahá said: `It is the twelfth day of our voyage. We have traveled a quarter of the way around the globe and have traversed six degrees of longitude. Here it is afternoon, while in Egypt it is the middle of the night at this time.'
In the evening some clergymen announced a meeting to observe the crucifixion of Christ. The Master remarked, `Their speeches in the meeting will be to the effect that Christ sacrificed Himself in order to redeem us from our sins. But they do not understand the inner meaning.' After the meeting He spoke extensively on this subject. `The redemption of sins', He said, `depends on our acting upon the admonitions of Christ, and the martyrdom of Christ was to cause us to attain praiseworthy morals and supreme stations.'
Sunday, April 7, 1912
[aboard the Cedric]
Before His morning tea `Abdu'l-Bahá requested that prayers be chanted. He offered thanks for the protection and assistance of the Abhá Beauty. When all of the Western and Persian friends were seated at the table for tea, He reverently expressed His thanks and gratitude for the divine favors. Each one of the friends was honored to be in His presence and asked themselves, `What am I seeing? Is it a dream or reality?'
In the afternoon some of the Western friends and a few passengers came to meet Him. He spoke in detail about the Bahá'í teachings of the oneness of humanity, universal peace and the raising of the tent of brotherhood and union. Everyone was interested and their hearts filled with joy and happiness, even more than they had been before.
Monday, April 8, 1912
[aboard the Cedric]
Although tired from the sea voyage, the Master wrote Tablets to the Bahá'ís in Tihrán. He took no food except milk until midday.
Wireless telegrams were received from the Bahá'ís in California and Chicago, expressing their joy at the Master's journey and conveying their happiness and devotion to the Cause.
Some of the passengers brought their children to visit `Abdu'l-Bahá. He showered them with His blessings and loving-kindness, so much so that the children did not want to leave Him. `The Blessed Beauty', He said, `has taught us to love children and to be the lovers of the whole human race.'
The Master's discourse today was mainly on the advantages and benefits of love and unity among humankind and the harm and terrible results of prejudice, blind imitation and disunity.
Tuesday, April 9, 1912
[aboard the Cedric]
While having His morning tea the Master remarked:
We shall be at sea for another day. Steam power is truly a wonderful thing. If there were no such power, how would the vast oceans have been crossed? What wonderful means God has supplied and what confirmations the Blessed Beauty has conferred. Otherwise, how could we be here? What have we in common with these places?11
As the post was being readied to send `Abdu'l-Bahá's letters to the friends in the East from New York, a wireless arrived from the friends in New York congratulating Him on His arrival and welcoming Him.
An American doctor came to visit `Abdu'l-Bahá. The Master spoke with him for about an hour on the history of the Faith, the persecutions and afflictions suffered by the Ancient Beauty, His imprisonment, the teachings and other subjects.
At the breakfast table the Master said, `I will take only a little soup. I have no appetite for the shipboard food.'
In the afternoon the believers and some Western ladies found great spiritual joy in the Master's presence as He told them of the influence of the Cause in promoting unity, love and fellowship among the peoples of the world.
The Italian physician, mentioned above, noticing the devotion of those surrounding the Master, became more respectful and even bowed when passing Him; in the evening He came into `Abdu'l-Bahá's presence with the utmost reverence. When the Master mentioned Shoghi Effendi, Mírzá Munír and Áqá Khusraw, the doctor said that he did not know anything about Shoghi Effendi's eyes, that he had only examined Khusraw's eyes and that the fault lay with the group of doctors from Naples. He begged the Master's pardon.
Later in the evening the Italian Consul and other passengers, group by group, visited `Abdu'l-Bahá. They were pleased with the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh and expressed their hope that these principles and doctrines would make great progress in America. Some expressed their faith and asked for `Abdu'l-Bahá's address in New York. As this was the last night of the voyage, one by one they bade farewell to the Master and took their leave. At 9:00 p.m. the lights of New York appeared shimmering in the distance and the steamer anchored offshore near the breakwater to enter the harbor the next morning.
Wednesday, April 10, 1912
[Thursday, April 11, 1912]12
`Abdu'l-Bahá's Arrival in New York City
After morning tea, the Master instructed that telegrams be sent to the Assemblies in both the East and the West informing the believers of His safe arrival. Then He said:
No one thought at the time of our departure from Ramleh that this voyage would be so enjoyable, that the great ocean would be crossed so easily and that my health would withstand the voyage in such manner!
One of the companions remarked that the confirmation of the Abhá Kingdom is ever with the Supporter of the Covenant and that all the people on the ship had remarked that the great ocean had never been so calm at this time of the year.
While the Master was having breakfast in the dining room, telegrams were pouring in from the American Bahá'í Assemblies expressing their great joy and congratulating Him upon the safe arrival of the steamer. The Statue of Liberty, standing majestically in mid-water, came into the Master's view.13
He ordered the luggage to be kept in readiness. As the ship came alongside the wharf, many tall buildings, including two enormous buildings 45 and 35 stories high, loomed into view.14
Many Bahá'í friends from New York and surrounding areas were waiting in line on the jetty, waving their hats and handkerchiefs in happiness. The Master, however, did not come out from His cabin.
When the boat anchored, some newspaper reporters came on board to see `Abdu'l-Bahá to ask Him about the purpose of His journey. He replied:
Our object is universal peace and the unity of humankind. I have traveled to Paris and London and now I have come to America to meet with those who seek universal peace and I hope that the peace societies of America will take the lead in promoting this end.
They asked, `How can universal peace be achieved?' `Abdu'l-Bahá answered:
Its realization is through the attraction and support of world public opinion. Today universal peace is the panacea for all human life.
They questioned, `What are these ills?' He answered:
One of these ills is the people's restlessness and discontent under the yoke of the war expenditures of the world's governments. What the people earn through hard labor is extorted from them by the governments and spent for purposes of war. And every day they increase these expenditures. Thus the burden on men becomes more and more unbearable and the tribulations of the people become more and more severe. This is one of the great ills of the day. What a great tribulation there is in the countries of Italy and Turkey in these days! The fathers hear of the death of their sons and the sons are distressed on hearing the news of the death of their fathers. What cities are laid to ruin and what rising fortunes are thrown to the winds! The antidote for this great ill is world peace, which is the source of universal tranquillity.
They then asked: `Is it not possible that peace can become the cause of trouble and that war the means of progress?' He replied:
No. It is war which is today the cause of all trouble. If all would lay down their arms, they would be freed from all difficulties and every misery would be changed into relief. However, this cannot be brought about except through education and the development of people's thoughts and ideas.
This sort of exchange continued, the Master giving full and thorough answers to their questions. The reporters then asked for permission to take photographs of the Master for their newspapers, and `Abdu'l-Bahá agreed.
The friends were waiting impatiently to see the Master but He instructed them to go to Mr [Edward] Kinney's house where He would see them in the afternoon. Thus the friends departed, except for a few who had already come on board and were honored to meet Him.15
After distributing gifts among the crew, `Abdu'l-Bahá disembarked, thereby blessing American soil, the recipient of everlasting honor, with the footsteps of the Beauty of the Divine Covenant. I wrote an ode in tribute to this blessed voyage:
The Beloved of the East and the Supreme Spirit of Persia
crossed the Atlantic Ocean,
Each second replete with joyful acclamations
exclaiming from the Cedric
That the King of Kings of the Covenant and the Monarch of Devotion
had consented to come to America.
He was welcomed with open arms
and the earth became the envy of heaven.
Existence itself nudged the world of being.
The sea raised its ceaseless voice
that the King of Kings of the Covenant
had consented to come to America.
On the tenth of April 1912 the illustrious and
reached New York to a great and wondrous welcome,
While heavenly angels proclaimed the glad tidings
that the King of Kings of the Covenant
had consented to come to America.
The first meeting between the believers and the Master was that afternoon at Mr Kinney's home.
After leaving the ship the Master went to the Hotel Ansonia. After some tea, He went to the meeting with the friends. And what a wonderful meeting it was!16
The friends were so full of joy and happiness that it seemed the very walls were immersed in rapture and ecstasy. Because it was so crowded, many had to stand. When the initial excitement abated, the Master gave thanks and gratitude to the Blessed Beauty for His assistance and then spoke about the power and influence of the holy utterances to attract and cement the hearts, unifying the East and West.
Because of the crowded conditions and excessive heat, the Master left the meeting and returned to His hotel. As He left the gathering, each believer approached Him, greeted Him with `Alláh-u-Abhá', shook His hand and took hold of His `abá [cloak], requesting prayers for assistance and confirmation.
They continued to surround Him until He entered His carriage and left for the hotel. Upon His arrival, He again offered thanks for the assistance of the Blessed Beauty and gratitude for the help and protection of the Abhá Kingdom.
The Hotel Ansonia is one of the landmark buildings in New York and is 17 stories high. The Master's suite was on the seventh floor and had two bedrooms, a drawing room, a kitchen and a bathroom, all completely furnished. The rent for the Master's apartment was Â£4 per day, exclusive of board and incidental expenses.
Thursday, April 11, 191217
Some friends came to visit `Abdu'l-Bahá. A newspaper reporter came and asked about the purpose of the Master's journey. He replied:
I have come to visit the peace societies of America because the fundamental principles of our Cause are universal peace and the promotion of the basic doctrine of the oneness and truth of all the divine religions. Differences between religions are due to misunderstanding and imitation. If these imitations were to be eliminated, all religions would be united.
The Master gave many such eloquent responses to the reporter's questions and ended with a discussion about the rights of women, the discouragement of polygamy and other social ills.
As `Abdu'l-Bahá had been mentioned in the newspapers as `The Prophet of the East', He said to the correspondent, `I am not a prophet; I am a servant of God. My name is `Abdu'l-Bahá [the servant of Bahá]'. Although the Master disclaimed the station of a Prophet, many newspapers, in describing His many qualities and attributes, continued to refer to Him as the `Prophet of the East' and the `Messenger of Peace'.
After He had revealed several Tablets in honor of some of the assemblies in America and had given instructions regarding the arrangement of meetings, He granted an audience to other representatives of the press who had earlier telephoned asking permission for an interview. He spoke at length about the unity of the principles of religions, the necessity for universal peace, the importance of a spiritual civilization, as well as the importance of education and the progress of women. The reporters took down all of His statements and published them in the newspapers. Representatives from other magazines and journals took more photographs of the Master and printed them in their publications. As a result, there were continuous calls requesting public and private meetings with Him. The friends also telephoned inquiring about the Master's health and well-being.
There was a public meeting in the afternoon at the home of Mr Howard MacNutt18
and another meeting that evening at the home of Miss Phillips.19
The Master expressed His happiness at meeting with the friends, exhorting them to be obedient to the Will and Testament of Bahá'u'lláh and to distinguish themselves among the peoples and nations of the world. Hundreds of people attended each meeting, all standing as the Master entered and calling out `Alláh-u-Abhá'. When the time came for Him to leave, each went forward with great joy and happiness to shake His hand and to beg confirmation from Him. When `Abdu'l-Bahá went to the waiting carriage, they stood surrounding it until He drove away.
Friday, April 12, 191220
Group after group of believers from New York and the surrounding areas came to visit. There were also many seekers who were interested and desired to visit the Master. Some clergymen also visited. The Master spoke to them, saying:
Material and spiritual matters have always advanced hand in hand but at the present time the material side is predominant and the divine principles have been neglected and thrown aside and forgotten. One of the chief reasons for this growing apathy is that the ministers of religion have taught that religion is opposed to science and reason and have thus enforced imitation. You must, therefore, relate religious verities to science.
Then He added:
The appearance of the divine Manifestations is like the coming of springtime. It is self-evident that spring does not remain forever. We pray that the divine Spring may again be the cause of the rejuvenation of the garden of existence.
At the end of His talk `Abdu'l-Bahá discouraged everyone from war and disunity and urged all to peace and unity. The clergymen were so transformed that they remarked as with one voice, `We have attempted for many years to portray and promote the spiritual teachings with such pleasing and tangible proofs.' They then requested the Master to come to their churches to speak. The Master replied, `I have already promised others and I shall stay here only a week for the present. I may speak on my return from Chicago.'
In the afternoon there was a public meeting at the home of Mrs [Alexander] Morten.21
Because the Master had spoken so much today, He was tired and rested for a little while in an upstairs bedroom before the meeting. When He came down the staircase to face the crowd below, He gave a wonderful, compassionate talk in an eloquent and melodious voice on the subject of the spiritual springtime. Apart from the many believers, there were also about a hundred newcomers present who shook His hand and expressed their joy and happiness. When He started to go upstairs, the crowd pleaded with Him to stay for a few more minutes. They approached Him, group by group, and then left, extremely happy and with great devotion. Some believers requested blessings for their children. The Master has a great love and affection for children. Some of the friends showed Him Tablets that He had written for them, overjoyed to have been so honored by Him. It is surprising to see how much the Cause of God has influenced them and the power of God's Covenant. The believers in America are extremely devoted to the Center of the Covenant and are obedient to His words and commands.
On the return to the hotel the carriage drove through the park roads. The Master remarked, `America will make rapid progress in the future but I am fearful of the effects of these high buildings and such densely populated cities; these are not good for the public health.'
Saturday, April 13, 191222
Among the prominent people who called upon the Master were the President of the New York Peace Society [Mr W. H. Short]23
and an important inventor of armaments [Mr Hudson Maxim].24
It happened that both were visiting `Abdu'l-Bahá at the same time. It was interesting to see the power and majesty with which the Master spoke to these two about serving the world of humanity and public welfare. Both left His presence with joy and devotion.
In the afternoon the public meeting was at the home of Mr [Mountfort] Mills.25
Several clergymen, professors and dignitaries were present. The Master first spoke on the superior power of the human kingdom over nature. Then in another room He spoke to the clergymen about the necessity of a power that will cause spirituality to be victorious over materialism. `This power', He said, `is the power of Bahá'u'lláh. We used that power and thus have succeeded in this great Cause.' The meeting and the attention and joyful devotion of those present gave `Abdu'l-Bahá much satisfaction. In the carriage returning to His hotel, He said:
I have made the subject of my talks here only one of the principles of the Blessed Beauty. I have not as yet touched upon others of greater importance. It is because I perceive the pulse of the people and the needs of the present circumstances that the confirmations of the Blessed Beauty successively rain down and assist me. These effects that you see are not only the result of addresses but are due to the assistance of the Blessed Beauty. Of course, everyone says that peace is desirable but the power to influence and conform is what is required. The Blessed Beauty is indeed my helper and protector, to the degree that were I, for example, even to make war the subject of my talks, the same effects would become apparent. It is indeed the confirmations of the Blessed Beauty that aid us. Otherwise how would Westerners show such consideration to us Easterners?
The Persian servants and American believers were with `Abdu'l-Bahá when He was at His hotel. A photographer with a movie camera received permission to photograph Him, together with His companions.
We also received news today of the disaster of the Titanic
The believers said prayers in gratitude that the Master had not acceded to their request that He travel on the ship.
Sunday, April 14, 1912
The Master went to the Church of the Ascension.27
This was the first church in America to be honored by the presence of the Master. He had previously received an invitation to visit this great edifice.
He entered the church from a special side door opening into a room in the church and rested for awhile. The clergymen came in and expressed their warm gratitude for His presence. After prayers, the Master went to the podium from the upper door. At the insistence of the minister, the Master sat on the tall chair especially reserved for the Viceroy of Christ. After more prayers, the minister spoke about the history and teachings of the Cause and, with great courtesy and respect, introduced the Master. The believers attending the services were elated. The Master rose from His seat and gave a comprehensive talk on the meaning of divine civilization. He presented the Bahá'í teachings and spoke about the Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh and the unification of humankind. The audience sat spellbound like iguanas sitting in the sun,28
overwhelmed by the Master's talk, especially at the end when the Master chanted a prayer in a most melodious voice. The prayer greatly affected the hearts of the listeners. As He left the church, group after group rushed towards Him. The Bahá'ís sang `Alláh-u-Abhá' and many asked for His blessings. From among the crowd a woman's voice was heard. Tears poured from her eyes as she held fast to the hem of the Master's robe. She was so overcome she could not speak. The Master showered her with His love and kindness and calmed her with loving words of assurance. It was a great day and a most impressive meeting. Not one of the two thousand people was disappointed and everyone left smiling in warm appreciation.
Monday, April 15, 1992 [New York]
That afternoon the Master spoke at the Advanced Thought Center.29
His talk was on the unity of God, the unity of the world of humanity and the need for greater capacity to receive the divine blessings. As He left the meeting hall, many people surrounded Him and asked what they could do to become united. The Master showered them with His love and kindness. They asked to see Him again and left Him with great courtesy and humility.
The Master was shown several newspapers that had published His picture and articles about His talks and yesterday's meetings. So great is the influence of the Cause of God that a zealous clergyman has made objections to Dr [Percy Stickney] Grant, the minister of the Church of the Ascension who had invited `Abdu'l-Bahá to sit in the chair reserved for the Viceroy of Christ. He asked why the minister had permitted `Abdu'l-Bahá to sit on the chair. Although he objected to the Master's talk, he could find no justification for his complaint. Other clergymen replied to his objections in a newspaper article, referring to his discourteous attitude. Thus he was obliged to write an article himself in which he stated that he had no doubt about the knowledge and importance of the teachings of `Abdu'l-Bahá and that his intention had been only to point out that the church's rules and regulations had been broken.
The bishop of the church was introduced to `Abdu'l-Bahá by Mr Mills. The bishop expressed his gratitude and appreciation for the Master's visit to the Church of the Ascension, saying, `I am very optimistic and pleased about the teachings of this Cause. You are the first great visitor from the East who has brought such important tidings to the West. Until now no one could imagine that such a great cause could exist in the East. This blessed journey is the cause of praise and gratitude.'
As the bishop listened to the Master's remarks about the dangers of blind imitation and prejudice, and on the fundamental unity of all religions, the necessity for universal peace, the agreement between science and religion, and a divine civilization, and so on, he became very respectful, and left with gratitude and humility.
In thanking the Master the bishop said, `You are the first great traveler from the East to the West to come with such noble principles.' I then recalled the statement of the Master on the ship when He said, `Up to the present time no one has traveled, with a purpose like ours, from Persia to America . . . Ours may be said to be the first voyage of Easterners to America.'
Tuesday, April 16, 1912
From early morning until late afternoon many believers and seekers came by requesting permission to see `Abdu'l-Bahá. Many sat on the porch waiting their turn and were extremely grateful if they could see Him for just a few minutes and be personally addressed by Him.
The public meeting today was held at the home of Mr [Arthur Pillsbury] Dodge. After lunch, `Abdu'l-Bahá spoke on the subject of the unity of nations brought about by the power of God, the influence of the words of Bahá'u'lláh and the ascendancy of His Cause. Because a large number of people were present, they entered through one door and, after greeting the Master, shaking His hand and seeking His blessings, left by another. Some were tearful while others were smiling and elated, asking for His assistance that they might be successful in teaching and in serving the Cause. This was the state of the people at all the public meetings. If I were to write about this in detail, it would take many volumes.
Wednesday, April 17, 1912
Among the dignitaries visiting the Master were several New York clergymen who invited Him to speak to their congregations. The Master told them, `I am going to Chicago in two days and therefore am unable to accept your invitation.'
Owing to the prejudice and hatred that has existed between blacks and whites, it has been impossible for white people to invite black people to their homes. Therefore `Abdu'l-Bahá has repeatedly encouraged the believers to promote fellowship and unity among these two races.
An important meeting was held today at the home of Mr Kinney.30
It was attended by many Bahá'ís and non-Bahá'ís and demonstrated a strong bond of unity between whites and blacks. The Master said that the East has always been the dawning place of light, that this gathering of blacks and whites is like the gathering of many colored flowers and that the variety of colors enhances the beauty of the garden and brings about the loveliness of each.
In the evening the Master invited everyone to dinner, which He Himself prepared. He spoke about unity and love and demonstrated to everyone how to serve at the threshold of the Blessed Beauty. Indeed, it was a blessed evening and a wonderful example of generosity and bestowal in the highest degree.
Thursday, April 18, 1912
Besides the individual meetings of the friends with `Abdu'l-Bahá, there were two public meetings held today. One was at the home of Mrs [Marshall] Emery,31
where He spoke about the life of the Blessed Beauty, His glory, His many afflictions and hardships and the triumph of the Cause of God despite His imprisonment by His enemies. This account brought tears to the eyes of the listeners and caused them to ponder deeply. Many asked that they might be assisted to serve the Cause.
The other meeting was held at the Bowery Mission Hall32
to help and assist the poor and destitute. First `Abdu'l-Bahá spoke on the subject of the station of poverty and gave the men hope for the future. His words were so penetrating that even those who were not poor became envious at `Abdu'l-Bahá's description of the station of poverty. The report of this meeting was publicized in many newspapers. When `Abdu'l-Bahá finished His talk, He said He wished to serve the poor. The chairman announced that `Abdu'l-Bahá would stand near the door so that they could come to Him from one side and then leave from the other. It was an impressive sight. The Master showered His kindness on each one and gave each of them some coins. Because there were about four hundred people, some said that the Master's money would not suffice; there would not be enough for all of them. Instead, some money was left over, which was given to other destitute people and children outside the Bowery.
Friday, April 19, 1912
It was the last day of `Abdu'l-Bahá's stay in New York. From early morning until noon there were the usual comings and goings of numerous friends and believers at the Master's hotel. In the evening a large meeting was arranged for the Master's talk at Earl Hall at Columbia University.33
In addition to students and professors, there were many other interested people, as well as the Bahá'ís. `Abdu'l-Bahá's talk was most penetrating and dealt with the supernatural powers of human nature and the results achieved from education and knowledge, and gave an explanation of peace and so on. After the meeting, those who had already met `Abdu'l-Bahá brought other seekers to meet Him in another room. These meetings were so long that the professors' plan to give the Master a tour of the university had to be abandoned.
From both the friends and inquirers was frequently heard the remark, `Oh, that this meeting would never end, for we do not want to leave Him.'
As it was `Abdu'l-Bahá's last night in the city, many believers remained longer than usual in His company. Each was a Majnún,34
enchanted with the beauty of the Center of Bahá'u'lláh's Covenant and attracted to the divine fragrances.
The friends continued to arrive until late at night. `Abdu'l-Bahá bade farewell to all and promised to be back among them when He returned.
Saturday, April 20, 1912
[en route to Washington DC]
In the early morning after prayers, meditations, morning tea and receiving some of the believers, `Abdu'l-Bahá left the Hotel Ansonia for the railway station [Grand Central Station]. A large group of friends and well-wishers were there to bid Him farewell. One by one they came to Him and in their own ways expressed their respect, attraction and humility.
When He arrived at the station, `Abdu'l-Bahá walked around the building, praising its beauty and construction. We were informed that it is one of the finest in the world, its construction costing about six million dollars. The train began its journey and for the first few miles it traveled by the great river. As well as His usual companions, two American Bahá'ís traveled with the Master. One was Mr John Bosch from California, who had come to New York specifically to see Him. He had asked for a Persian name and was given the name Núrání [`the Luminous'] by the Master. The other American was Dr Edward Getsinger, who begged `Abdu'l-Bahá that he be allowed to be a part of His entourage. As most American trains have but one class of travel, except for sleeping compartments, we were all accommodated in one cabin.
After a journey of about five hours the train reached Washington DC. Before the journey the Master had sent a telegram to the friends in Washington requesting that a house be rented for Him. Mrs [Agnes] Parsons had invited the Master to stay at her home but He did not at first accept her invitation. However, after He was told by the friends that her home had been especially prepared for His visit, for which she had been anxiously waiting, He agreed to her request; for had her invitation not been accepted, she would have been heartbroken and deeply saddened. The Master and a translator went to Mrs Parsons's home and `Abdu'l-Bahá instructed the other members of His entourage to stay at the house rented for Him. Thus Mrs Parsons's house was the first home in America in which the Master resided; He stayed there for several days.35
That evening `Abdu'l-Bahá attended the annual meeting of the Orient-Occident Unity Conference at the public library.36
It was a vast gathering and the hall was filled to capacity. As the Master entered the hall, the audience was awe-struck. All stood and remained standing until He bade them be seated. It was amazing to witness how spontaneously these people paid Him their respect, even though most were not Bahá'ís. He spoke on the importance of the relationship between the East and the West, the unity of people and about the Revelation of the Greatest Name. His talk was so moving and inspiring that afterwards everyone wanted to meet Him but because He was too tired to greet everyone, He decided to return home.
Sunday, April 21, 1912
The highlight of the day was a very important and well-attended meeting at the Universalist Church.37
The minister of the church introduced `Abdu'l-Bahá with a most glowing tribute to His life and teachings. Then the Master rose from His seat and delivered an address on the need for cooperation, love, friendship and universal peace. He stressed Christ's statement that `I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth' [John 16:12-13], and added, `And now that time has come and the Divine Spirit has spoken, revealing all truth.'
I have reproduced here the whole of that address:38
What the minister of the Church delineated before us just now testifies to his high sense of morality and his efforts to serve the world of humanity. It is truly praiseworthy and deserves commendation for it opposes the ingrained prejudices of man. These prejudices have kept the human world in a state of chaos for the past six thousand years. How many wars have taken place; how many battles have been fought; how much discord has been caused by them! Inasmuch as this century is the century of the manifestation of truth -- praise be to God! -- the thoughts of men are turned to truth and the souls are prepared for the oneness of humanity. The ocean of reality is surging more tumultuously and the mirage of imitation is daily passing away. All the existing religions have had one foundation of truth. This foundation has led humanity to love, accord and progress. However, after each of the divine Manifestations, that light of reality was gradually beclouded and the darkness of superstitions and imitations came in its place. The world of humanity was encircled in that darkness. Day by day, enmity waxed great until it reached such a pitch that each nation rose against the other. Were it not for political obstructions, the nations would have completely destroyed and overthrown one another. Now it is enough! We must investigate the truth. We must pass by these vain imaginings. Praise be to God that we are all the servants of one God. We are all under the protection of His favors and are recipients of His bestowals. God is kind to all. Why should we be unkind? God is at peace with all; why should we war with one another? At most it is this: that some are ignorant; they must be educated. Some are as children; they must be trained. Some are sick and infirm; they must be healed. But the ill patient must not be detested. The child must not be considered bad. We must strive to remedy and heal. All the Prophets of God came for the education of humanity in order that the immature souls might become mature and to establish love and amity among mankind. The Prophets have not come to this world to cause discord and enmity. For God wants good for all His servants, not ill; and he who wishes the servants of God ill is opposed to God. He is not on the right path; rather, he has followed the footsteps of Satan, inasmuch as the attribute of God is mercy and that of Satan is rancor. Therefore, every man who is merciful and kind to his fellow man is following God's way and every man who bears hatred toward his fellow man is opposing Him. God is absolute mercy and pure love, and Satan is absolute enmity and utter hatred. Therefore, in whatever meeting you see love, know that it is a manifestation of God's mercy; and wherever you see enmity, know that it is the outcome of the evil suggestions of Satan. The Prophets of God have come to this world to make human souls the expressions of the All-Merciful and to instill friendship and love in the hearts of men. The animal is a captive of nature and does what its nature prompts it to do. It has not consideration for good or evil. But the Prophets have come to teach man that which is good, not evil, so that he may act in conformity with justice and equity and not follow the demands of his natural instincts. He should act in accord with reason and justice, even though that be against his natural inclination. Whatever he should find contrary to reason and equity, that should be considered unworthy, even though it be propitious to his natural impulse. Therefore, man must follow the attributes of the All-Merciful. However, the imperfect members of society follow their natural instincts. They obey these instincts. They are captives of physical susceptibilities. They are not aware of the spiritual bounties. Man is possessed of two aspects, the physical and the divine. The divine aspect consists of reconciliation, purity, love and faithfulness but the animal aspect consists of war, contention, bloodshed and massacre. If the animal side in man should overcome, he becomes more degraded than animals. If the divine side should triumph, he becomes an angel. The teachings of the Prophets were solely directed to educate humanity in order to subdue the animal side so that persons under the yoke of nature may find salvation and the heavenly aspect may rule victorious. This divine aspect is the bounty of the Holy Spirit, it is the second birth. He who possesses the divine aspect is a well-wisher of mankind and is most kind to all. He will entertain no enmity toward any Faith and will not belittle any religion, for the foundations of the religions of God are one. If we refer back to these foundations, we shall become united. But if we turn toward imitations, we shall be at variance, for imitations differ but the foundations of the divine religions are one and the same. Imitation leads to differences and trouble but the foundations of the divine religions cause love and union.
Christ once said, `When he, the Spirit of Truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth.' He also said, `There are many things which you cannot bear hearing now, but when the Spirit of Truth is come, he will expound all truth unto you.' Now is the century in which the Spirit of Truth has spoken and has revealed the whole truth. He has laid bare the truth of the religion of Christ and has redeemed people from superstitions so that the edifice of ignorance and enmity may be destroyed and the foundation of love may be established. We must all endeavor with heart and soul in order that this enmity and spite may disappear entirely from the midst of humanity, that this hatred and strife may pass away absolutely. The Holy Spirit admonishes us to follow the example of Christ, to read the Gospels and to see that Christ was pure love. He even prayed for His executioners when He was on the cross. He prayed, `O Lord, pardon them, for they know not what they do. If they knew, they would not perform such deeds.' See how loving the divine Manifestations are that even on the cross they pray for the forgiveness of their oppressors. Therefore we must emulate the Prophets of God; we must follow in Their footsteps; we must free ourselves from the darkness of dogmatic imitations. I ask you, did God create us for love or for enmity? Surely He has created us for love and friendship. Therefore, we must be aware because self-interest prompts people to shut their eyes to the truth. They want to pursue their own self-interest and they move but in the darkness of desire. Consider what hardships Christ suffered when He appeared. In spite of all this He in the end united diverse people and different religions. The Romans, Greeks, Assyrians and Egyptians were most hostile toward each other. Christ, through the breath of the Holy Spirit, united them all, established fellowship among them all, so that differences were cast aside and strife and disputes were forgotten. They were united under His standard and lived in peace through His teaching. Which was preferable? To have followed Christ or to have followed satanic and hostile instincts? I hope that the people of the East and the West shall be quickened by the breath of the Holy Spirit, in this, the blessed century of Bahá'u'lláh, and become united, that all may cling to the essential reality of the divine religions -- that truth is one and that it is indivisible and not multiple. When all investigate the truth, all will be united, the light of the oneness of humanity will shine and universal peace will come into being. I will now pray on your behalf:
O Lord! These Thy servants have assembled here out of pure love. They have gathered together in perfect accord and harmony. O God! Illumine their faces, make joyous their souls with Thy most great glad tidings. Brighten their eyes with the verses of Thy guidance and delight their ears with the melody of Thy sweet voice.
O Lord, we are wrongdoers; forgive us. We are sinners; grant us Thy pardon. Shelter us in Thy refuge. Satisfy the needy through Thy forgiveness. Free us from the world of vain imaginings and guide us to the Truth, that we may seek the divine reality, shun the mortal world, approach the divine kingdom and, withdrawn from the world of darkness, enter the realm of light.
Deliver us from the darkness of material existence and illumine us with the rays of the infinite realm. Make us the manifestations of Thy light and the dawning places of Thy signs. Turn us from all else save Thee and cause us to become the recipients of Thy mysteries. Thou, O God, art the Compassionate, the Wise, the Forgiving, the Mighty.
After this wonderful talk, the minister rose to thank the Master and said to the congregation, `If anyone wishes to shake hands with `Abdu'l-Bahá, he should come from one side of the podium and leave by the other.' The Master stood near the pulpit and members of the audience approached Him with great respect and reverence. They bowed, shook His hand and offered their thanks to Him. Later the Master said, `The people in the church pressed my hand to such a degree that it is now aching.' In addition to these public gatherings, from morning to evening people from all walks of life came to the Master's residence to visit Him.
Monday, April 22, 1912
A meeting was held with the Bahá'ís.39
When the Master arrived, the friends greeted Him with poems and songs written in His praise. He spoke about the events during His long travels, the union of peoples from the East and the West, the greatness of this century and the appearance of the Greatest Name. He concluded the meeting by chanting a beautiful and moving prayer. The friends rushed to His side; one shaking His hand, another holding onto the hem of His robe and yet another with tears of joy and in the utmost happiness. When the Master left the gathering, the friends lined up in two rows as He passed through their midst. He approached His automobile and again the friends rushed towards Him like moths circling around the candle of the Covenant.
In the afternoon, the Master spoke at another gathering about the sinking of the Titanic40
. He prayed for the souls of the passengers and expressed His condolences to their survivors. In the evening, Mrs Parsons held a dinner in His honor to which all the friends were invited.41
At the table, `Abdu'l-Bahá said:
Consider the confirmations of the Blessed Beauty, what He has done, how He has brought us to the house of such a personage, who in the utmost love has prepared such a feast in our honor. The power and influence of the Word of God have united the East and the West! How perfect are His heavenly favors and how all-embracing His divine bounties!
Tuesday, April 23, 1912
Today the Master went to Howard University, an educational institution for blacks.42
The hosts (mostly black with a few whites) had made special arrangements so that when the Master arrived He was welcomed by music from a band while the audience applauded with excitement and exuberance. It is difficult to describe the scene adequately. The president of the university was very cordial and introduced `Abdu'l-Bahá as the Prophet of Peace and the harbinger of unity and salvation. Then the Master rose from His seat and spoke on the subject of the harmony between blacks and whites and the unity of humankind.43
The audience repeatedly applauded Him during the talk, delighted at His words. At the conclusion, the president of the university thanked `Abdu'l-Bahá on behalf of all those gathered. As He left the auditorium, group after group formed two lines, one on each side, all showing their highest respect by bowing and waving their hats and handkerchiefs in farewell to the beloved Master.44
`Abdu'l-Bahá had lunch at the home of Ali Kuli Khan. Several believers were present, including ourselves.45
There was a public meeting in the afternoon at the same house.46
The majority attending the meeting were ladies from high society. At this meeting the Master spoke about the education and improvement of women and the promotion of unity and peace in the world of humanity.47
After the meeting several new people arrived48
and sat for a brief time in the Master's presence. They so enjoyed His company they did not want to leave.
In the evening, close to bedtime, when the Master was alone and extremely tired from the day's activities, He prayed, praising and thanking the Blessed Beauty. On one occasion He said:
We must offer thanks to the Blessed Beauty because it is His help that has stirred the people; it is His grace that has changed the hearts. The assistance of the Abhá Kingdom has transformed a drop into a mighty ocean. The aid of the Most High has turned a gnat into an eagle, has invested an ant with the power of a Solomon and has caused the debased one to become a source of eternal honor.'
A third meeting was held this evening in a black church.49
All those present paid Him the highest respect and were delighted to hear about the new teachings. The Master's talk, they felt, gave them honor and would cause them to progress. As is customary at churches, there was a collection and the Master made a contribution.
Wednesday, April 24, 1912
In the morning `Abdu'l-Bahá went to a Bahá'í children's conference.50
As He entered the hall, the children sang songs in praise of `Abdu'l-Bahá in unison, accompanied by the piano. When the Master saw the children, He said, `Praise be to God. These children, like flowers, are in a state of utmost purity, freshness and delicacy!' After He spoke and recited prayers for the children, the Master kissed and embraced each child and gave them some sweets. The immensity of His love and affection for the children was clearly obvious.
A second meeting51
was held that evening at the home of Mr and Mrs Andrew J. Dyer, a mixed race couple.52
Those present were in such unity and love that the Master remarked:
Before I arrived, I felt too tired to speak at this meeting but at the sight of such genuine love and attraction between the white and the black friends, I was so moved that I spoke with great love and likened this union of different colored races to a string of gleaming pearls and rubies.
After He spoke and showered His love on each one, He left in His carriage for a third meeting.53
`Abdu'l-Bahá was so filled with joy and happiness and His voice resonated so loudly that even the people walking along the street could hear Him:
O Bahá'u'lláh! What hast Thou done? O Bahá'u'lláh! May my life be sacrificed for Thee! O Bahá'u'lláh! May my soul be offered up for Thy sake! How full were Thy days with trials and tribulations! How severe the ordeals Thou didst endure! How solid the foundation Thou hast finally laid, and how glorious the banner Thou didst hoist!54
`Abdu'l-Bahá continued in this manner until the carriage reached the home of Mr [Alexander Graham] Bell. This great individual is the inventor of the telephone and the head of a scientific society. The day before, this venerable and inventive old gentleman had visited the Master and invited Him to attend the meeting of the scientific society. When the Master entered, all rose and each in turn shook His hand. Those who had met the Master previously introduced Him to the others with the greatest respect and honor. After the Master was seated, discussion of scientific issues continued. Each spoke of his experiences and discussed his discoveries. After several people had spoken, Mr Bell asked Ali Kuli Khan, the Persian ambassador,55
to relate the history of the Faith. Then Mr Bell thanked the Master for coming to his home and asked Him to address the guests.
The Master began His talk by praising their good manners and praiseworthy qualities. He then spoke of the importance and the results of science, the greatness of this age and the interdependence of society, and paid a glorious tribute to the new Dispensation. Mr Bell was extremely delighted and rose to thank the Master for His talk. The hearts of those present were so moved that when the next member arose to give his talk, he could only say, `The talk of the Master from the East was so wonderful that I find myself inadequate to say anything' and sat down. A few others spoke briefly and the meeting ended.
Mr Bell invited the Master and his guests to go into the dining hall. It was midnight, and as it is customary for people in the West to eat late at night before going to bed, the table was spread with bread, meat, candies, cookies, fruit and beverages. Although the Master had not yet had dinner, He spoke through Mr Bell to his wife and daughter. Mrs Bell is deaf and mute and communicates through sign language. Sign language is similar to writing, with lines, points and stops, just as in telegraph technology, and is now so well developed that people can speak easily with the deaf.
As is well known, Mr Bell's main purpose was to invent an instrument that would enable the deaf to communicate. Out of his deep love for his wife, he devoted himself to this day and night and in the end invented the telephone. But this did not fulfill his intended purpose. The Master said:
Yes, most of the great inventions were made in a similar way. For instance, the search for alchemy has brought into being thousands of useful medicines and the desire of finding a direct route to India from Europe became the cause of the discovery of America. Thursday, April 25, 1912
There was a special meeting for the Theosophists56
in the morning. The Master spoke on the distinction and superiority of human beings to the rest of creation, the various faculties of the soul, the unity of God, the need for spiritual progress and divine civilization. There were many guests and after the Master's talk some went into a private room to ask Him personal questions. Another meeting was held in the afternoon at the Master's residence.57
As with the other meetings, it was attended by the public. The living room on the ground floor was filled to capacity. `Abdu'l-Bahá spoke on the importance and necessity of spiritual teachings and their renewal in every age. He also discussed the principles of this great Cause. After the talk, many received permission to ask Him questions in an adjoining room. Most of them first apologized, aware that He was extremely tired, but said that just being in His presence was for them their greatest joy and that to listen to Him was a source of happiness and honor.
Today the Master said to Mrs Parsons:
Such a traveler and guest is the cause of much bother. You need to leave the house and run away. The usual guest in a city meets certain people at specific times but you have had to host the public from morning until evening.
In the evening the Turkish Ambassador, his honor D
á, invited the Master to a royal feast.58
Most of us were also invited, as were many dignitaries, all of whom were dressed in formal attire. The Master gave a short talk at the table with the utmost majesty and beauty on the subject of the influence of the words of the Manifestations of God and their all-conquering power. The Ambassador then read from a prepared statement written in praise of the Master and presented it to Him:
The light of His honor's quality and knowledge in this new land and new world is now shining upon all peoples, showering them with His encouragement and enlightenment. He has suffered and sacrificed everything for the purpose of disseminating good qualities for humanity. He has now honored us by His presence. His Honor, `Abdu'l-Bahá, is unique in our age and is highly esteemed and treasured by all of us. With prayer to the Lord of the worlds, I wish Him a long life and good health.
When the Ambassador completed his statement, the Master spoke:
This night is a very blessed night, worthy of the utmost praise and joy for many reasons. First, praise be to God, we are in a country which is famous for its prosperity and freedom. Second, we are in a house which is connected to the great Ottoman Power. Third, we are the guests of His Excellency the Ambassador who shines like the sun in the world of morality. Fourth, this meeting provides a tangible demonstration of the love and unity that is possible between the East and the West.
His Excellency the Ambassador is from the East, while his wife is an American. Similarly, His Excellency the Ambassador of Persia is from the nobility of the Orient, while his wife is also an American. This is a proof that the Orient and Occident can meet, love and unite. The greatest wish of people of thought and broad vision and sound understanding is the oneness and unity of humanity. This reality was not so apparent in former times but in this enlightened age which is the age of science and the progress of the world of humanity, this important fact has become manifest through the help and assistance of God: that all peoples are related, that all are from one family, citizens of one country and one world. This is the century of the oneness of the world of humanity and of the decline and abrogation of the superstitions of past ages. Every learned person is persuaded that this is the century for oneness and unity and the time for fanciful prejudices to fade away. We pray that misunderstandings among nations may disappear completely so that it may be evident that the foundation of all divine principles is the oneness of mankind and that the real purpose of all divine Manifestations has been to educate humanity. Divine religions are not the cause of dissension, nor do they beget enmity and hatred, for the foundation of all of them is truth and truth is one, it has no plurality.
The differences which we find are the results of imitations. As the imitations vary one from another, they become the cause of animosity and difference. The gloom of these imitations has wholly obscured the Sun of Reality. But, praise be to God, day by day these clouds are being dispersed and dissipated; ere long, they shall be wholly removed and the Sun of Reality shall be seen to shine most brilliantly. The standard of the oneness of humanity will be unfurled, the tabernacle of the universal peace will be raised, and this world will become another world.
I thank His Excellency the Ambassador who brought about this meeting of people of different nationalities in his home. Such meetings, in truth, deserve much praise and commendation.
At the close of the meeting the Ambassador again arose to show his respect and appreciation. He accompanied the Master to His carriage with the utmost humility and esteem.
During these days, many dignitaries and important people visited the Master. Even President [Theodore] Roosevelt59
came, with humility and respect, especially to see the Master.
Friday, April 26, 1912
In addition to the usual receptions at the home of Mrs Parsons, there were three public meetings: one in the morning, another in the afternoon and one in the evening. At the first gathering, at the All Saints Unitarian Church, the Master spoke on the subject of the varieties of light, the effulgence of the Sun of Reality in its original essence, and of the waiting souls with pure hearts who are like unto clear spotless mirrors, whose eyes and ears become enlightened by the appearance of the Sun of Reality.60
So great was the respect and devotion of the audience that `Abdu'l-Bahá wrote in a cable He sent to the Orient: `Today three thousand persons visited with the utmost harmony.'
At every gathering, whether for Bahá'ís or non-Bahá'ís, several stenographers, as well as the Persian secretaries, were in attendance. The English translations were published soon after the address itself but the Persian originals taken down by us verbatim had to be submitted to `Abdu'l-Bahá for correction. Because of His heavy schedule, He had little time for this, so the originals were often delayed in their publication.
The afternoon meeting was held at the home of Mrs Parsons.61
The subject of the talk was the interpretation of the Old Testament statement concerning the creation of man in the image of God. At the conclusion `Abdu'l-Bahá took His leave of the friends, promising to return to Washington DC from Chicago. On hearing this, the friends hastened to shake hands with Him and showed great reverence and humility to Him, joyful that soon He would return to their midst. After the meeting, `Abdu'l-Bahá went for a stroll in a park to recuperate.
In the evening `Abdu'l-Bahá went to a third gathering, held in a very large building, to speak to a group of young women of the suffrage movement.62
This was the largest meeting held thus far and the most spacious and majestic hall. `Abdu'l-Bahá delivered a most impressive address which He began by saying:
One of the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh is equality of rights for men and women. When He promulgated this principle in the Orient, the people were astonished.
One of the proofs of the advancement of women is this magnificent and imposing building and this large gathering.
`Abdu'l-Bahá's talk centered on the subject of equality of men and women and the necessity of giving women the same training as men. Many praised Him, both before and after His talk. The meeting closed with a song of praise.
The chairman of the meeting, Mr Hoover from New York, introduced the Master most eloquently. When `Abdu'l-Bahá came to the pulpit, He was received with a standing ovation and a burst of enthusiasm. Then, with a motion of His hand, all seated themselves.
As the Master arose to give His talk, everyone began to clap so loudly that the sound echoed around the great hall. Everyone was thrilled as the beloved Master stood and the hearts of the believers were relieved of all grief and anxiety. Indeed, the appearance of the Center of God's Covenant in these meetings is worthy of the highest praise and will undoubtedly be of the greatest benefit to all. Instead of the harsh treatment meted out to the Manifestations of God, here was the advancement and elevation of the Cause of God. To listen to the melodious, resonant voice of the Center of the Covenant in such auditoriums fills one with excitement and raises the banner of everlasting honor. The presence of the Eastern friends was sorely missed.
At the end of the meeting, people again filled the room to capacity so they could glimpse `Abdu'l-Bahá's beautiful face and shake His hand.
Saturday, April 27, 1912
Mrs Parsons offered the Master a sum of money but He said that she should distribute it among the poor. No matter how much she supplicated, He would not accept it, saying, `If we had not had the money necessary for the expenses of the voyage, we would have accepted your offer.'
The Treasurer of the United States had lunch with the Master.63
This gentleman was very happy and smiling as he bade farewell to the Master. Later, the Master went to the home of an official to say goodbye. The man embraced Him, weeping with joy. When I saw the smile of the Treasurer and the tears of the official, I recited this poem: `The smiles and tears of the lovers are from another world.'
The Bahá'í meetings and the outstanding qualities of the Master have received such acclaim that today, out of jealousy, some narrow-minded Christian clergymen spoke out against the Cause.
Since this was the last night of the Master's stay in the this city, Mrs Parsons held an elegant reception for dignitaries and city officials in honor of `Abdu'l-Bahá and on behalf of the Orient-Occident Unity Society.64
Three hundred people in formal attire assembled in the spacious rooms, which were beautifully decorated with flowers and ornaments. When the Master came downstairs, each guest, man and woman alike, approached Him with the utmost reverence to shake His hand. They introduced one another and paid Him their respects. The guests then went into the dining room to partake of the repast prepared for them, including beverages, cakes, ice cream and coffee.
After they had eaten the guests were ushered into the music hall while the Master sat in another room to receive those who wished to see Him. He answered all their questions. To a Washington judge He said: `It is possible to establish among the powers of the whole world the unity which is found among the states of the United States of America.' To some doctors He stated, `I hope that you will raise the standard of universal peace.' To a mathematician He said, `I hope that you will try to teach the truth and principles of divine religions to different nations just as you are teaching mathematics to different persons in your school.' To Admiral Peary, the explorer of the North Pole, He said, `I hope you will discover the mysteries of the Kingdom of God.'65
The Master spoke to a bishop, saying, `My hope is that you will abandon harmful imitations, spread the truth of the teachings of Christ and remove all those dogmas that are against science and reality.' To the chargÃ(c) d'affaires of Switzerland, the Master described His sojourn in that country. To some relatives of the President of the United States [William Howard Taft] He spoke about divine civilization. To a member of Congress, He said, `Just as you are exerting yourself for the good of America, so must you expend your energy for the benefit of all the nations of the world.' He also spoke to the head of the United States Patent Office and the General Consul, the President of the Peace Congress and other well-known personages.
When this magnificent meeting ended, the guests came to `Abdu'l-Bahá one by one to shake His hand and to say goodbye. The night was one of the most blessed nights and that meeting one of the most great and important meetings.
Sunday, April 28, 1912
[Washington DC, en route to Chicago]
The Master prepared to leave for Chicago. Among those who came to see Him was the ambassador of Great Britain,66
who was very humble and reverent while in His presence. Many friends, believers and seekers were with `Abdu'l-Bahá until His departure at 5:30 p.m. As He was leaving He said to Mrs Parsons:
This was the springtime; we had good meetings at your home; I shall never forget them. I shall pray for divine confirmation for you that you may be assisted both materially and spiritually. This material world has an outward appearance, as it has also an inner reality. All created things are interlinked in a chain leading to spirituality and ultimately ending in abstract realities. I hope that these spiritual links will become stronger day by day and that this communication of hearts, which is termed inspiration, will continue. When this connection exists, bodily separation is not important; this condition is beyond the world of words and above all description.
To others He said, `I hope these meetings of ours will bring forth everlasting results. The greatest of all benefits is the oneness of humanity and universal peace.'
Some friends came to the railway station to see `Abdu'l-Bahá off and to gaze once more at the Master's beautiful countenance.67
Some were to accompany Him to Chicago. Among them was Mrs Moss, a stenographer, who had requested a Persian name and was given the name Marzieh Kh
After crossing the Potomac River, the train entered the state of Virginia, which is exceedingly fertile and green. The scenery on both sides was charming, with a verdant expanse of land as far as the eye could see. `Abdu'l-Bahá praised the scenery and said it was most beautiful but His face showed signs of an inner sorrow. After a few minutes He said, `Whenever I see such scenes, I feel great sorrow, for the Blessed Beauty liked verdure and greenery very much. God shall never pardon those who imprisoned Him in that place.'68
The conversation then turned to the train. The Master praised the sleeping car room, the cleanliness of the compartments and the electric lights in them; however, owing to the speed of the train, the Master was not able to sleep.
Monday, April 29, 1912
In the morning the Master again praised the beauty and fertility of the countryside; a more fertile land had never before been seen. He had breakfast in the dining car. Today He spoke mostly about the days of the Blessed Beauty and had Him constantly in mind.
The train reached Chicago at night.69
The city was so bright with lights it was as if it were the Feast of Lights. When the friends saw the Master at the train station, they were filled with excitement, crying out `Alláh-u-Abhá' and `Yá `Abdu'l-Bahá', their voices resounding throughout the station.
The Master went to the Plaza Hotel. After a brief rest, He was visited by some of the Bahá'ís, to whom He said:
You have a good city. The call of God was first raised in this city. I hope that in Chicago the Cause of God will progress greatly and that it may be illumined by the light of the Kingdom just as it is brightened by electricity.
In Washington we always had audiences of one to two thousand in large meetings. Day and night I had no rest. A close friendship was created between the black and white people. Many came to the Faith. Even those who are not believers drew much closer. Notwithstanding all this, I like Chicago more because the call of Bahá'u'lláh was first raised in this city. I hope you will be assisted to do great service and to live together in the utmost love and harmony.
When the believers begged for protection from tests and trials, `Abdu'l-Bahá said to them:
The severest tests were in Persia where properties were pillaged and the friends were martyred. They had not a moment's security. In short, I had a great desire to see you. If I hadn't this desire, the assistance of Bahá'u'lláh would not have encompassed me. It is His assistance that has brought me here, for, at the time of leaving Alexandria, when I boarded the ship, I was not well at all.
Some newspaper reporters telephoned, asking permission to interview the Master. He agreed that they could interview Him the following morning. After dinner, He looked out at the park and, gazing at the scenery before Him, said, `This building commands a good view; most of the parks, streets and the city's lights can be seen.'
Tuesday, April 30, 1912
Several friends and inquirers gathered in one of the rooms of `Abdu'l-Bahá's suite and went in two or three at a time to speak with Him through an interpreter. Each returned transformed, soaring high in the atmosphere of happiness and joy. A few newspaper reporters were announced and He addressed them:
We believe Bahá'u'lláh to be the supreme educator of the humanity. When the gloom of contention was spread over the Orient; when the nations of the East were steeped in enmity and hatred; when its religious sects shunned one another, denouncing one another as impure, and the people were ever engaged in war and the shedding of blood, Bahá'u'lláh appeared as the sun from the horizon of the East and summoned all to fellowship and harmony. He devoted Himself to their education and upliftment. He guided people from all nations and religions, cemented different denominations and united diverse nationalities to such an extent that if you attend their meetings you cannot say who is a Jew, who is a Muslim, who is a Parsi or who is a Christian. The despotic king of Persia with the legions of his `ulamá [Muslim clergymen] arose against Him and inflicted the severest persecution upon Him. They imprisoned Bahá'u'lláh and killed His followers. The oppression intensified to such a degree that all those who dared obey Bahá'u'lláh would lose life and property. But with all this, they could not resist Him; His teachings spread more and more. Then His persecutors exiled Him to Bagh
dád, whence He was sent to Rumelia70
and finally to the penal city of `Akká. He passed away in that city. I myself was in the same prison until the declaration of liberty by the Committee of Union and Progress when all prisoners were set free.
As to the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh, they are, first, the investigation of truth. The fundamental principle of all the Prophets is Truth. Truth is one. Abraham was the promulgator of truth; Moses was the servant of truth; Christ laid down the cornerstone of truth; Muhammad was the propagator of truth; the Báb was the herald of truth; and Bahá'u'lláh was the light of truth. Truth is the foundation of all the divine religions and is one. In truth there is no dissension. Imitations are different and are a cause of dissension and division. If people investigate truth and set aside imitations, all the nations will unite, for there exists no difference in religious truth; the differences lie in imitations only.
The second principle of Bahá'u'lláh is the unity of mankind. Bahá'u'lláh proclaims that all are the servants of one God; He has created all and provides for and sustains all. All are immersed in the ocean of His mercy and God is kind to all. Why should we be unkind to one another? We must follow the polity of God. Can we conceive a better polity than that of God?
The third principle He gave us is the harmony of science and religion. Both science and religion are truth. If religion is against reality and truth it is mere superstition. Every religious tenet that conflicts with true knowledge and sound reasoning is not worthy of belief. Thus the dogmas and imitations that stand in the way of science and progress must be removed.
The fourth principle is that religion must be the cause of unity, it must connect hearts to one another. Christ and all the other divine messengers came to create unity and love. Therefore, if religion becomes the cause of differences, its nonexistence is preferable.
The fifth principle is that all religious, racial, patriotic and political prejudices are the causes of war and the destroyers of the edifice of humanity. All these must be discarded and abolished.
The sixth principle is Universal Peace. Humanity must achieve this peace. Until its light illumines the decisions of the leaders and governments of the world, humanity will find no rest.
The seventh principle is the equality of rights for men and women. The education of women must be equal to that of men so that they may advance and achieve the same status as men. Teachings of this kind are numerous.
In addition to the visits of large numbers of people at the hotel both day and night, three large meetings were held, attended by almost three thousand people, all of whom were honored to see `Abdu'l-Bahá. The first meeting was held at Hull House and was attended by both blacks and whites.71
The Master spoke on the subject of the unity and oneness of humanity; that God has given faculties and powers equally to all and that the different colors of humankind are like the various colors of the flowers of a garden, which increases the beauty and charm of the garden. His eloquent and impressive talk thrilled His listeners.
There exists among the whites in America a marked animosity for the blacks, who are held in such low esteem that the whites do not allow them to attend their public functions and think it beneath their dignity to mix with them in some of the public buildings and hotels. One day, Dr Zia Bagdadi invited Mr [Louis] Gregory, a black Bahá'í, to his home. When his landlord heard about this, he gave notice to Dr Bagdadi to vacate his residence because he had had a black man in his home. Although such prejudice was intense, the influence of the Cause of God and the power of God's Covenant is so great that in many cities in America hundreds of black and white Bahá'ís mingle together and associate with each other as brothers and sisters.
Another meeting held at Handel Hall especially to bring together the blacks and the whites.72
The Master offered a commentary on a verse from the Old Testament, `Let us make man in our image, after our likeness': `By "image and likeness"', He said, `is meant human virtues and perfections and not the black or white color of the skin.' The Master's impressive talk transformed and deeply affected the gathering.
The Master then went to a third meeting, addressing some two thousand people at the Convention of the Bahá'í Temple Unity73
held at the spacious Drill Hall. The entire audience stood when the Master entered, even though not all were Bahá'ís. The friends were full of excitement and cried `Alláh-u-Abhá' so loudly that the hall resounded with their voices.
After a song of praise and glorification, the Master gave a detailed and eloquent talk on the purpose of the Temple and the unification of all under one standard. He concluded His talk by chanting a prayer in Persian in a most melodious voice. Some of those attending the convention met Him outside and asked whether they could visit Him at His residence. The crowd gathered around Him until He got into His carriage.