The Eternal Quest for God: Chapter 6
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The Perfect Man: The Manifestation of God

The discussion of such a deep and important topic deserves a more complete study than ours. However we shall do our best to set forth in the following pages some fundamental concepts.[1]

The Manifestations of God in the history of mankind

From a historical point of view, the Manifestations of God are a small number of famous personages, whose existence is sometimes questioned, but whose traces are so evident in human history that no unbiased observer can fail to acknowledge them. They are the founders of the great revealed religions:[2] Abraham, Moses, Jesus, Muhammad, Buddha, Krishna, Zoroaster and, more recently, the Báb and Bahá'u'lláh.

We will now study these extraordinary personages in their common historical aspects, so that we may understand them in a theological and philosophical perspective. They are men of the most dissimilar social backgrounds: princes such as Buddha and Bahá'u'lláh, priests like Zoroaster, merchants such as Muhammad and the Báb, craftsmen like Jesus, courtiers such as Moses. None of them attended any school, or availed himself of worldly power. They announced to their fellow-men a message in the name of a Creator God Whose mouthpiece they proclaimed themselves. Their message has always been indicative of the importance of rising above certain limitations, which they referred to as earthly, so that an ethical-theoretical goal, which they referred to as spiritual, might be attained. They have thus urged mankind to accept hardships and renunciation so that these goals may be achieved, and promised as a reward or as a chastisement life or death of the spirit respectively.

In the beginning, a mere handful of God-intoxicated disciples follows this new Master, giving rise to a scandal among the right-thinkers, observant of the traditional rules -- such a scandal as to raise storms of persecution against the Manifestation and His followers. However, despite their often violent deaths (e.g. Jesus and the Báb) and the murder of many of their early followers (martyrs) their ideas, which are at first strongly opposed, eventually, as they show their power of renewal, transform society and usher in a new civilization.

Their teachings therefore, unlike the teachings of philosophers, conquer mankind through their intrinsic power and, when they are put into practice, prove themselves fruitful and give birth to flourishing civilizations. No civilization, including modern Western civilization, is known that was not born through such a process.[3]

However, in the course of time these teachings lose their effectiveness amongst men and -- according to the universal law of evolution -- having yielded their fruit they decline and die. It is then that a new Manifestation appears announcing a new message and new teachings so that mankind may achieve a new spiritual life. The cycle of the ages -- an expression of the never-ending `circle of existence'[4] -- proceeds in its eternal motion even in the case of historical religions which -- like any other phenomenal reality -- are born, grow, yield their fruit, decline and die.

These personages are fundamentally different from the great heroes of history. They are characterized by two distinctive features:

  1. Their teachings -- set forth by words and mostly in the form of one or more holy texts -- represent the essence of such spiritual laws as are fit for mankind in its specific stage of growth. In fact, when mankind complies with them, its spiritual, intellectual and social progress is realized. They are the `science of reality', says `Abdu'l-Bahá, `the greatest bestowal of God'; and He adds: `... the sphere of the divine teachings is boundless... without the teachings of God the world of humanity is like the animal kingdom', which anyhow `is not cap-able of apprehending them'. In fact, these teachings `are the bestowals specialized for man', `above all other source of instruction and development for man', `the basis of all civilization and progress in the history of mankind',[5] `a power above and beyond the powers of nature', `a power' that can `change this black darkness into light.'[6]

  2. Their spiritual power -- which they bestow upon anyone who of his own free will and consciously identifies himself with those teachings -- is that force through which man can be transformed into a creature endowed with the spiritual virtues of the world of the Kingdom and capable of great spiritual attainments in the world.

Their threefold reality

What is this power that enables them to bestow upon mankind such teachings and spiritual forces? The Bahá'í texts maintain that they convey to mankind `the revelation of the Soul of God',[7] in other words they are the visible expression of the spiritual reality of the world of the Kingdom.[8]

This spiritual reality, the First Emanation of the Divine Reality, is reflected in the human reality of these personages, like the sun is reflected in a perfect mirror. They are therefore characterized by a threefold reality:

Material: that is, their bodies, which -- like all human bodies -- are bound to be born, to grow up, to develop and to die.

Human: that is, their souls, their individualities. In this regard Bahá'u'lláh writes: `Everyone of them is a mirror of God... All else besides them are to be regarded as mirrors capable of reflecting the glory of these Manifestations Who are themselves the Primary Mirrors of the Divine Being...'. He writes moreover that the soul of the Manifestation of God is `a pure and stainless Soul'99 and `Abdu'l-Bahá explains that it is `a perfect soul', `like a mirror wherein the Sun of Reality is reflected... a perfect expression of the Sun'.[10]

When the soul of the Manifestation is compared to God, it is like a perfect mirror reflecting the divine rays; when it is compared to mankind, that soul occupies a quite different position. `Abdu'l-Bahá says: `... the individual reality of the Manifestation of God is a holy reality, and for that reason it is sanctified and, in that which concerns its nature and quality, is distinguished from all other things...'.[11]

In this context, He likens this perfect Soul to the sun, which is the direct source of its shining rays, and human souls to the moon, which merely reflects those rays.

These souls are different from human souls also in another respect: `The Prophets are pre-existent. The soul or spirit of the individual comes into being with the conception of the physical body. The Prophets, unlike us, are pre-existent. The soul of Christ existed in the spiritual world before His birth in this world. We cannot imagine what that world is like, so words are inadequate to picture His state of being...'.[12]

Also the Manifestations of God have a `rational soul, which is the human reality', or `human spirit', says `Abdu'l-Bahá, and they `... share it with all mankind'. However, He explains that the degree of perception typical of the Manifestations of God is not the same rational perception which is typical of human souls, but a `universal divine mind' transcending human knowledge, in that it is `a conscious power, not a power of investigation and of research'. Such power `is the special attribute of the Holy Manifestations and of the Dawning-Places of Prophethood; a ray of this light falls upon the mirrors of the hearts of the righteous'.[13]

Therefore human knowledge is but the reflection of a ray, when compared to such a sun as is the knowledge of the Manifestation of God.

Moreover, in the station of their individualities `the Divine Manifestations are so many different mirrors, because they have a special individuality... It is clear that the reality of Christ is different from that of Moses.' Nevertheless `that which is reflected in the mirrors is the one sun',[14] therefore it is easy to understand how, though the Manifestations of God differ from each other in many respects, yet they are essentially one and the same.

Divine: that is the Word of God, the Logos. This reality has neither a beginning nor an end; it is eternal, yet it is inferior to God, because it was created by Him. `... this third state is alone partaken of by the divine messengers, although great saints have attained extraordinary pre-eminence and reflect the splendour of the sun,'[15] says `Abdu'l-Bahá.

These three aspects of the reality of the Manifestation of God are described by `Abdu'l-Bahá through the following metaphor: their material nature is as a niche, their human nature is as the lamp within the niche, their divine nature as the light which emanates from the lamp.[16]

Therefore, since the Manifestations of God are endowed with a `divine universal mind', they know the essence of things, and not just their attributes. Their knowledge of the essence of things is likened by `Abdu'l-Bahá to the self-consciousness of human beings: `it is a conscious power, not a power of investigation and of research',[17] He says. As they are endowed with such perfect knowledge-consciousness of the world, they know also `the essential connection which proceeds from the realities of things',[18] which `Abdu'l-Bahá defines as `nature' in its meaning of will of God. Therefore they can convey to mankind as much of their knowledge as mankind can profit from in its specific time and circumstances, a knowledge which may well be defined as `science of reality'.[19]

As to their spiritual power, it is an emanation of the world of the Kingdom whose Manifestation they are. In fact, Bahá'u'lláh writes that they are `the vehicle for the transmission of the Grace of the Divinity itself';[20] and `Abdu'l-Bahá explains: `The greatest power of the Holy Spirit exists in the Divine Manifestations of the Truth. Through the power of the Spirit the Heavenly Teaching has been brought into the world of humanity... everlasting life has come to the children of men... the Divine Glory has shone from East to West and... will the divine virtues of humanity become manifest.'[21]

The Essence of God and the Manifestations of God

The relation between the Essence of God and the Manifestations of God falls within the concept of emanation which has been explained in the second chapter of this book. The Essence of God is sanctified above anything else. It is Its active attributes that shine in the world of the Kingdom and appear in the human world through the Manifestations of God. Therefore, the Manifestations are not incarnations of God,[22] nor do they manifest His Essence, from which they are far remote.[23]

They are an emanation of God -- His First Emanation. `Abdu'l-Bahá explains that they `... are as mirrors which have acquired illumination from the Sun of Truth, but the Sun does not descend from its high zenith and does not effect entrance within the mirror. In truth, this mirror has attained complete polish and purity until the utmost capacity of reflection has been developed in it; therefore, the Sun of Reality with its fullest effulgence and splendour is revealed therein.'[24]

The Manifestation of God is, therefore, the visible expression of that same spirit which creates, moves and guides the entire universe and which manifests itself in a Being who ex-presses man's material, human and divine natures in their perfection, so that mankind may freely recognize him and of his own free will submit to his laws, thus undergoing -- by virtue of those spiritual forces the Manifestation bestows -- such a transformation as is the essence of human spiritual growth or progress.

Though the Manifestations of God are powerful and yield absolute power over mankind, yet they are wholly submitted unto God and have no will of their own. Bahá'u'lláh refers to Himself as `but a leaf which the winds of the Will of Thy Lord... have stirred'.[25]

And elsewhere He describes His Own station thus: `This station is the station in which one dieth to himself and liveth in God. Divinity, whenever I mention it, indicateth My complete and absolute self-effacement. This is the station in which I have no control over mine own weal or woe, nor over my life nor over my resurrection.'[26]

The lives of the Manifestations of God -- beset as they are with trials and hardships -- are the evidence of their utmost submission to the will of God. Endowed with the power of omnipotence as they are, they accept a life of humility, giving the highest and purest example of such voluntary submission unto the will of God as is their foremost teaching.

Their Names

In the Bahá'í texts the Manifestations of God are given several names:

  1. Prophet, that is one who speaks in the name of God;

  2. Messenger, representative or apostle of God, that is one who is sent by God into the world so that he may bestow upon mankind the divine bounties of the world of the Kingdom;

  3. Word of God, inasmuch as the Manifestations of God have the capacity of giving perfect expression to the spiritual meanings of reality, whereas human beings, limited as they are, have not such a capacity and therefore are referred to as `letters';[27]

  4. Sun of Truth or of Reality. In relation to the world of mankind they are like the sun in relation to the earth. They are the only source of life, enlightenment and growth for mankind, as the sun for the earth. Bahá'u'lláh writes: `... if for one moment the tide of His mercy and grace were to be withheld from the world, it would completely perish,'[28] and `Abdu'l-Bahá ex-plains: `The outer sun is a sign or symbol of the inner and ideal Sun of Truth, the Word of God... a function of the sun is the revelation of the mysteries and creative purposes hidden within the phenomenal world.' This Sun `gives forth the light of religion and bestows the life of the spirit, imbues humanity with archetypal virtues and confers eternal splendors'; `its lights are the lights of reality';[29]

  5. Perfect Man. The Manifestation of God is perfect in comparison with other men. Bahá'u'lláh writes: `Upon the inmost reality of each and every created thing He hath shed the light of one of His names, and made it a recipient of the glory of one of His attributes. Upon the reality of man, however, He hath focused the radiance of all of His names and attributes, and made it a mirror of His own Self.' In the metaphor presented by Bahá'u'lláh, the Manifestations of God, in comparison with other men, are `the Primary Mirrors'.[30]

  6. Divine Physician. Bahá'u'lláh writes: `Regard the world as the human body which, though at its creation whole and perfect, hath been afflicted, through various causes, with grave disorders and maladies...'; the Manifestation of God is that `skilled... all-powerful and inspired Physician' who gives the `remedy' fit for its `healing'.[31]

In the same vein, `Abdu'l-Bahá explains: `Every divine Manifestation is the very life of the world, and the skilled physician of each ailing soul. The world of man is sick, and that competent Physician knoweth the cure, arising as He doth with teachings, counsels and admonishments that are the remedy for every pain, the healing balm to every wound'.[32]

In the Bahá'í texts the Manifestations of God are also given many other names which describe their attributes: a deeper study of such a topic is beyond the scope of this book.[33]

Relations between the Manifestations of God

In the Bahá'í texts, the Manifestations of God are viewed, in their mutual relations, in two different perspectives: The station of unity, that is `of pure abstraction and essential unity':[34] in this station `they all have but one purpose; their secret is the same secret',[35] writes Bahá'u'lláh. Therefore, at the times of their Dispensation[36] each one of them is the depository of the `Most Great Infallibility'37 and `to none is given the right to question His authority'; whosoever does so deprives himself of any possibility of spiritual growth, like a tree shut out from the sun. In this respect, `Whoso maketh the slightest possible difference between their persons, their words, their messages, their acts and manners, hath indeed disbelieved in God,'[38] writes Bahá'u'lláh.

The station of distinction. Bahá'u'lláh writes: `Each and every-one of them hath been the Bearer of a distinct Message' of a `divinely revealed Book', and has shown forth special qualities. In this station, therefore, they are different from each other. According to the Bahá'í texts, in fact, divine revelation through the Manifestations of God is an eternal phenomenon. Bahá'u'lláh writes: `... the Manifestations of His Divine glory and the Day Springs of eternal holiness have been sent down from time immemorial, and been commissioned to summon mankind to the one true God. That the names of some of them are forgotten and the record of their lives lost is to be attributed to the disturbances and changes that have overtaken the world.'[39]

And `Abdu'l-Bahá explains: `... the Kingdom of God is an ancient sovereignty... it is not an accidental sovereignty...' and there-fore there have always been Manifestations of God coming to mankind. `... [T]here have been many holy Manifestations of God. One thousand years ago, two hundred thousand years ago, one million years ago, the bounty of God was flowing, the radiance of God was shining, the dominion of God was existing.'[40]

The Manifestations of God come one after the other, each one of them representing a different stage in a progressive phenomenon. The Bahá'í texts explain that the law of evolution operates also in the succession of the Manifestations of God amongst men. In the divine revelation, there are evolutionary cycles whereby a fruit appears, through successive stages, from a seed. Each of the Manifestations of God is a stage in this process that Bahá'u'lláh calls `the chain of successive Revelations' and the teachings they bring are progressive. In this regard Bahá'u'lláh writes: `Know of a certainty that in every Dispensation the light of Divine Revelation hath been vouchsafed unto men in direct proportion to their spiritual capacity'; and moreover: `Should the Word be allowed to release suddenly all the energies latent within it, no man could sustain the weight of so mighty a Revelation'. Elsewhere He writes: `Their Revelation may be likened unto the light of the moon that sheddeth its radiance upon the earth. Though every time it appeareth, it revealeth a fresh measure of its brightness, yet its inherent splendour can never diminish, nor can its light suffer extinction.'[41]

`Abdu'l-Bahá likens progressive revelation to human spirit appearing with different power in the embryo, the newborn baby, and so on through the various stages of human life, or to the spirit of growth which is present in the seed but manifests itself in different ways in leaves and fruits; He says: `... revelation is progressive and continuous. It never ceases. It is necessary that the reality of Divinity with all its perfections and attributes should become resplendent in the human world.'[42]

Revelations come into the world one after the other, even as springtimes follow one another, year after year. `Abdu'l-Bahá develops the metaphor of the Sun of Reality as the Manifestation of God and says: `The coming of a Manifestation of God is the season of spiritual spring'; and elsewhere: `... just as the solar cycle has its four seasons, the cycle of the Sun of Reality has its distinct and successive periods.' These periods can be compared respectively to springtime, when the new spiritual era begins; to summertime, when the civilization ushered in by the Manifestation of God has attained its greatest flourishing; to autumn, when its fruits are gathered, but at the same time its decline begins; and to winter, when there is `the death and disappearance of the divine growth and extinction of the light and love of God', whereas only `dogmas and blind imitations' remain. At that time `... again the cycle begins and a new springtime appears'.[43]

`Abdu'l-Bahá explains the same concept in different words: `From the days of Adam until today, the religions of God have been made manifest, one following the other, and each one of them fulfilled its due function, revived mankind, and provided education and enlightenment. They freed the people from the darkness of the world of nature and ushered them into the brightness of the Kingdom. As each succeeding Faith and Law became revealed, it remained for some centuries a richly fruitful tree and to it was committed the happiness of humankind. However, as the centuries rolled by, it aged, it flourished no more and put forth no fruit, wherefore was it then made young again.'44

Elsewhere thus He ex-plains the origin of materialism: `When the sun sets, it is the time for bats to fly. They come forth because they are creatures of the night. When the light of religion becomes darkened, the materialists appear. They are the bats of the night. The decline of religion is their time of activity; they seek the shadows when the world is darkened and clouds have spread over it.'[45]

Through these explanations the reasons may be understood why the progress of civilizations cannot be described as a continuous ascending line, but rather as a discontinuous ascending line. E. Laszlo acutely writes: `The historical record... gives good reasons to believe that societies... do not change at all times and in small increments. Rather, the mode of change appears saltatory and intermittent... progressive yet discontinuous...'.[46]

These periods of transformation may be compared to that which the Bahá'í texts call `Day of God'47 or, through a metaphor, `the season of the spiritual springtime', that is `the coming of a Manifestation of God.'[48]

The periods of stagnation are the phases of religious de-cline, of the triumph of fanaticism which in its turn is the direct cause of the victory of materialistic forces, which find their origin and the confirmation of their theories in the mistakes perpetrated by the followers of religions. After all, the judgement pronounced by Karl Marx against religion refers to religious phenomena studied during their spiritual winter.[49]

Nevertheless, notwithstanding the differences between them, all the Manifestations of God manifest all the names and attributes of God. `They only differ, writes Bahá'u'lláh, in the intensity of their revelation and the comparative potency of their light.'[50]

The Bahá'í texts are very emphatic on this point: whoever does not believe in the oneness of the Manifestations of God does not believe in the oneness of God.

Their purposes

The Manifestations of God have a twofold purpose: to promote the spiritual growth of individuals and to further the progress of society.

  1. Promoting the spiritual growth of individuals: `Abdu'l-Bahá says: `God hath sent forth the Prophets for the purpose of quickening the soul of man into higher and divine recognitions'; `to train the souls of humanity and free them from the thraldom of natural instincts and physical tendencies';[51] `to teach and en-lighten man, to explain to him the mystery of the Power of the Holy Spirit; to enable him to reflect the light, and so, in his turn, to be the source of guidance to others';[52] and, in the words of Bahá'u'lláh, `to lay bare those gems that lie hidden within the mine of their true and inmost selves'. In this sense, Bahá'u'lláh compares the revelation to the mythical elixir: the former changes copper into gold, the latter transforms the animal nature of man into a divine nature.[53]

    Bahá'u'lláh writes concisely that the purpose of the Manifestations of God is `to endue all men with righteousness and understanding, so that peace and tranquillity may be firmly established amongst them'.[54]

    And `Abdu'l-Bahá says: "... the wisdom of the Manifestation of God is directed toward the establishing of the bond of a love which is indissoluble.'[55]

  2. The first purpose fulfils also the second: furthering the progress of society or, in the words of Bahá'u'lláh, `to carry forward an ever-advancing civilization',[56] or, in the words of `Abdu'l-Bahá, `... unifying humanity and establishing universal peace'. In this sense `Abdu'l-Bahá says also: `The Prophets have founded divine civilization.'[57]

Therefore, the Manifestations of God are the great Educators of mankind, which is in need of them because `the world of existence is but a jungle of disorder and confusion, a state of nature producing nothing but fruitless, useless trees'.[58]

They are sometimes likened to `the heart [of] the body of the universe... Through his spiritual faculty he receives the teachings and bounties of the Almighty God and then imparts them to the world through material means in which he shares with other men'.[59]

As their religions have a twofold purpose, two aspects can be identified in them: `one, the essential or fundamental, the other, the material or accidental. The first aspect... concerns the ethical development and spiritual progress of mankind, the awakening of potential human susceptibilities and the descent of the divine bestowals. These ordinances are changeless, essential, eternal. The second function... deals with material conditions, the laws of human intercourse and social regulation. These are subject to change and transformation in accordance with the time, place and condition.'[60]

In the light of all these qualities and functions, we may well understand the following exalted words Bahá'u'lláh wrote describing the Manifestations of God: `It is God's supreme testimony, the clearest evidence of His truth, the sign of His consummate bounty, the token of His all- encompassing mercy, the proof of His most loving providence, the symbol of His most perfect grace.'[61]

We understand also why it is so vitally important for men to recognize the Manifestation and to submit wholeheartedly to his guidance.

Their proofs

Through what signs is mankind enabled to identify these Perfect Men, these Unique Teachers? Thus Bahá'u'lláh answers such an important question: `The first and foremost testimony establishing His truth is His own Self. Next to this testimony is His Revelation. For whoso faileth to recognize either the one or the other He hath established the words He hath revealed as proofs of His reality and truth. This is, verily, an evidence of His tender mercy unto men. He hath endowed every soul with the capacity to recognize the signs of God.'62

Thus `Abdu'l-Bahá explains this important issue: `One of the proofs is through the fulfillment of former prophecies, the second proofs are the creative words and phrases which salute the hearts of humanity, the third are their deeds and the fourth are their teachings.' `Abdu'l-Bahá does not seem to attach great importance to prophecies, very difficult to interpret and very easy to refute. He does not ascribe a great value to their miracles, `convincing to a limited number only'.[63]

He attaches the greatest importance to their deeds, to their teachings and to the power of their words. Regarding their deeds, `Abdu'l-Bahá writes: `... the Divine Educator must teach by word and also by deed, thus revealing to all the straight pathway of truth'. Among their deeds He mentions particularly their `strength and endurance'64 under tests and trials. Regarding their teachings and the power of their words, He says: `The proof of the validity of a Manifestation of God is the penetration and potency of His Word, the cultivation of heavenly attributes in the lives and hearts of His followers and the bestowal of divine education upon the world of humanity. This is absolute proof. The world is a school in which there must be Teachers of the Word of God.' Else-where He says: `If we wish to discover whether anyone of these Souls or Messengers was in reality a Prophet of God, we must investigate the facts surrounding His life and history, and the first point of our investigation will be the education He be-stowed upon mankind.' And moreover: `It is evident, then, that the proofs of the validity and inspiration of a Prophet of God are the deeds of beneficent accomplishment and greatness emanating from Him. If He proves to be instrumental in the elevation and betterment of mankind, He is undoubtedly a valid and heavenly Messenger.' And finally: `The essential requirement and qualification of Prophethood is the training and the guidance of the people.'[65]

This transformation produced by virtue of the influence exercised by the Manifestation of God upon His followers is such that some of them go so far as to offer their lives, rather than recant their faith: these are the martyrs, the pride of all revealed religions.[66]

History, therefore, is -- once more -- the tribunal which will judge, by demonstrating his meanness, anyone who may unduly lay claim to prophethood, whereas the fruits manifest in the lives of the followers of any true divine Messenger and in the characters of the civilization he has ushered in are clear evidence of his truth. When Christ was asked by His disciples how they could distinguish the false from the true prophet, He answered: `Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?'[67]


The Manifestations of God are seemingly as frail creatures as any human being, ever wholly deprived of any worldly power; and yet they are the bearers of teachings which are really `iconoclastic'[68] in their disruptive influence on time-honoured traditions, traditions which in the long run have mostly turned into prejudices. No wonder, then, that they have always been rejected and persecuted by their contemporaries, or that at the beginning it is so difficult for most people to accept their teachings and recognize their station. On the other hand, that is part of the rules of the game of human spiritual growth. It is a process that rests upon a free and conscious choice between a concrete and alluring, sensible reality, and a difficultly perceived and appreciated, spiritual reality. In fact how could such a choice be free, and such a process achieve its educational purpose, if the signs of the Manifestations of God were evident and attractive to human eyes, i.e. to that same animal nature that must be conquered and overcome? Or if those signs were easily grasped by human minds, which are requested to independently put themselves at the service of the Manifestation? It is the human soul's attraction towards the world of the Kingdom that, despite all else, must be the guide of human beings, so that they may over-come any obstacle raised by the natal self, with its natural emotions, and by the mind itself, through the prejudices it may easily fall prey to, and may recognize the shining reality of the Manifestation of God.

End notes:

[1] Regarding the concept of the Manifestation of God see J. R. Cole, `The Concept of the Manifestation in The Bahá'í Writings', in Bahá'í Studies, IX and A. Bausani, `La Nascita di Bahá'u'lláh,' in Opinioni Bahá'í, VIII, no. 4, p.3.

[2] For a deeper study of this topic see J. Mahmudi, `The Institutionalization of Religion', in World Order, XI, no.1, pp.16- 25.

[3] Regarding the topic of the birth of civilizations, see `Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections, pp.283-4.

[4] Promulgation, p.220.

[5] ibid. pp.297, 61, 361.

[6] Selections, p.53.

[7] Gleanings, p.160.

[8] The world of the Kingdom is called also First Mind, Primal Will, Word of God or Logos, Identity, Self or Soul of God. See above, pp.35-6.

9 Gleanings, pp.74, 66.

[10] Promulgation, p.173.

[11] Some Answered Questions, p.154.

[12] on behalf of Shoghi Effendi in Bahá'í News, Supplement, no. 112, June 1967.

[13] Some Answered Questions, pp.151, 208, 151, 218.

[14] Ibid. p.155.

[15] Divine Philosophy, p.56.

[16] Bahá'u'lláh writes that they occupy a `double station', divine and human (See Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings, p.66) and have a `twofold nature' `the physical... and the spiritual.' (ibid. pp.66-7.)

[17] Some Answered Questions, p.218.

[18] ibid. p.158.

[19] Promulgation, p.297.

[20] Gleanings, pp.67-8.

[21] Paris Talks, p.87.

[22] Bahá'u'lláh writes: `Know thou of a certainty that the Unseen can in no wise incarnate His Essence and reveal it unto men. He is, and hath been, immensely exalted beyond all that can either be recounted or perceived... He Who is everlastingly hidden from the eyes of men can never be known except through His Manifestation, and His Manifestation can adduce no greater proof of the truth of His Mission than the proof of His own Person.' (Gleanings, p.49.) He writes moreover: `However, let none construe these utterances to be anthropomorphism, nor see in them the descent of the worlds of God into the grades of the creatures; nor should they lead thy Eminence to such assumptions. For God is, in His Essence, holy above ascent and descent, entrance and exit; He hath through all eternity been free of the attributes of human creatures and ever will remain so. No man hath ever known Him; no soul hath ever found the pathway to His Being.' (Seven Valleys, pp.22-3.)

[23] In this regard Bahá'u'lláh writes: `Ten thousand Prophets, each a Moses, are thunderstruck upon the Sinai of their search at God's forbidding voice, "Thou shall never behold Me!"; whilst a myriad of Messengers, each as great as Jesus, stand dismayed upon their heavenly thrones by the interdiction: "Mine Essence thou shall never apprehend!".' And moreoever: `When I contemplate, O My God, the relationship that bindeth Me to Thee, I am moved to proclaim to all created things "verily, I am God"; and when I consider my own self, lo, I find it coarser than clay.' (Bahá'u'lláh, in Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, p.113.)

[24] Promulgation, p.114.

[25] Proclamation, p.57.

[26] Epistle, p.41.

[27] Gleanings, p.196. `Abdu'l-Bahá says: `By the "word" we mean that creation with its infinite forms is like unto letters and the individual members of humanity are likewise like unto letters. A letter individually has no meaning, no independent significance, but the station of Christ is the station of the word. That is why Christ is the "word" -- a complete significance. The universal bestowal of divinity is manifest in Christ. It is obvious that the evolution of other souls is approximate, or only a part of the whole, but the perfections of the Christ are universal, or the whole. The reality of Christ is the collective centre of all the independent virtues and infinite significances.' (Divine Philosophy, p.144.)

[28] Gleanings, p.68.

[29] Promulgation, pp.74, 94. The locution Sun of Reality or of Truth is often used to indicate the world of the Kingdom in its essence. `Abdu'l-Bahá writes: `... the Sun of Truth dwelleth in a sky to which no soul hath any access, and which no mind can reach, and He is far beyon the comprehension of all creatures. Yet the Holy Manifestations of God are even as a looking-glass, burnished and without stain, which gathereth streams of light out of that Sun, and then scattereth the glory over the rest of creation. In that polished surface, the Sun with all Its majesty standeth clearly revealed'. (Selections, p.50.)

[30] Gleanings, pp.65, 74.

[31] Proclamation, pp.67-8.

[32] Selections, p.59.

[33] For a meditation on the names of the Manifestations of God see R. Rabbani, The Desire of the World. She writes: `We now come to a selection from the passages of Bahá'u'lláh's writings which might be defined as the essence of theology, which consists for the most part of the titles of God and the titles of Bahá'u'lláh Himself.' (ibid. p.163.) She then proceeds with that which she describes as a `not complete... nevertheless a comprehensive and impressive selection of the gem-like metaphors and phrases He has used' to convey such a difficult concept, and which may be suggested as an effective starting point in studying and meditating upon this important theme.

[34] Kitáb-i-Íqán, p.152.

[35] Gleanings, p.78.

[36] `Dispensation' is intended as a religious system as a stage in a progressive revelation.

37 Tablets, p.108. Bahá'u'lláh writes: `Know that the term "Infallibility" hath numerous meanings and divers stations. In one sense it is applicable to One Whom God hath made immune from error. Similarly it is applied to every soul whom God hath guarded against sin, transgression, rebellion, impiety, disbelief and the like. However, the Most Great Infalliblity is confined to One Whose station is immeasurably exalted beyond ordinances or prohibitions and is sanctified from errors and omissions. Indeed He is a Light which is not followed by darkness and a Truth not overtaken by error. Were He to pronounce water to be wine or heaven to be earth or light to be fire, He speaketh the truth and no doubt would there be about it; and unto none is given the right to question His authority or to say why or wherefore.' (ibid. p.108.)

[38] Gleanings, pp.87, 59-60.

[39] ibid. pp.79, 74, 174.

[40] Promulgation, p.463.

[41] Gleanings, pp.74, 87, 76-7, 79.

[42] Promulgation, p.378.

[43] ibid. pp.54, 95, 363, 95.

44 Selections, pp.51-2.

[45] Promulgation, pp.179-80.

[46] Evolution, pp.101, 105.

47 Gleanings, p.11.

[48] Promulgation, p.54.

[49] For a deeper discussion of this concept, see G.Nash, The Phoenix and the Ashes, p.104. As to the comparison between materialists and bats, see above p.16 and no. 80.

[50] Gleanings, p.48.

[51] Promulgation, p.310.

[52] Paris Talks, p.61.

[53] Gleanings, p.287. See also ibid. p.200.

[54] ibid. p.225.

[55] Promulgation, p.344.

[56] Gleanings, p.215.

[57] Promulgation, pp.97, 375.

[58] ibid. p.466.

[59] Mírzá Abu'l-Fadl, `The Heart', in Star of the West, X, p.115.

[60] Promulgation, pp.97-8. In this regard, `Abdu'l-Bahá says also: `Each one of the divine religions has established two kinds of ordinances, the essential and the accidental. The essential ordinances rest upon the firm, unchanging, eternal foundations of the Word itself. They concern spiritualities, seek to stabilize morals, awaken intuitive susceptibilities, reveal the knowledge of God and inculcate the love of all mankind. The accidental laws concern the administration of outer human actions and relations, establishing rules and regulations requisite for the world of bodies and their control. These are ever subject to change and supersedure according to exigencies of time, place and condition. For example, during the times of Moses... divorce was sanctioned and polygamy allowable to a certain extent... Briefly, the foundation of the divine religions is one eternal foundation, but the laws for temporary conditions and exigencies are subject to change. Therefore, by adherence to these temporary laws, blindly following and imitating ancestral forms, difference and divergence have arisen among followers of the various religions, resulting in disunion, strife and hatred. Blind imitations and dogmatic observances are conducive to alienation and disagreement; they lead to bloodshed and destruction of the foundations of humanity. Therefore, the religionists of the world must lay aside these imitations and investigate the essential foundation of reality itself, which is not subject to change or transformation. This is the divine means of agreement and unification.' (Promulgation, pp.338-9.)

[61] Gleanings, p.195.

62 ibid. pp.105-6.

[63] Divine Philosophy, pp.39-40.

64 Selections, p.56.

[65] Promulgation, pp.341, 364, 366, 411.

[66] For an explanation of the meaning of martyrdom see Kitáb-i-Íqán, pp.221-8, and Gleanings pp.179-83.

[67] Matt. 7:16-17.

[68] Promulgation, p.154. See also Kitáb-i-Íqán, pp.4 passim and Gleanings, pp.56-9.

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