Wednesday, May 1, 1912
In the morning `Abdu'l-Bahá looked at some buildings from His balcony and enjoyed the lovely view of the park. He spoke to us, until visitors arrived, about the early days of the Most Great Prison and the sufferings of the Blessed Beauty. He sent several telegrams today to the assemblies of the East, sharing with them the glad tidings of the assistance of Bahá'u'lláh.
He spoke with the friends for a time and bestowed upon them His love. About an hour later He went to the proposed site of the Mash
located outside the city, where property had been purchased for the construction of this great building. By the time He arrived the friends had already assembled and had pitched a large tent for the meeting.
`Abdu'l-Bahá first drove around the site, inspecting its boundaries, and then entered the tent. The friends stood all about Him, their eyes intently fixed on His luminous face. It was in these circumstances that `Abdu'l-Bahá gave His talk on the power of the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh to unite the people of the East and the West beneath the shadow of the Word of God. He also spoke about the Mash
kárs of `Ish
qábád and America.75
He then went to the spot where He was to lay the cornerstone with His own hands. Miss Holmes presented Him with a golden trowel especially prepared for the occasion. He took it in His hand and dug the earth for the foundation stone.76
Then the delegates from the American assemblies, followed by representatives of the Eastern friends, each took the trowel and continued digging the foundation. Among them were Mihtar Ardish
ír Bahrám Surúsh
representing the Bahá'ís of Pársí background,77
Siyyid Asadu'lláh representing the Bahá'ís of Muslim origin, Zia Bagdadi representing the Arabian friends and Ghodsieh (Qudsíyyih) Kh
ánum Ashraf representing the Bahá'í women of the East. When the digging was completed, the Master set the stone in place with His own hand.78
He then showered His love and affection on the friends and left the site. Most of the friends remained and had lunch inside the tent.
There was a reception at the Plaza Hotel later that afternoon at which the Master spoke on divine civilization and spiritual qualities.79
Both before and after the meeting friends and inquirers requested interviews and asked Him questions on several subjects.
Thursday, May 2, 1912
From morning until noon `Abdu'l-Bahá received successive waves of visitors, both friends and inquirers, in His private room. When the numbers grew too large, He went into the outer room and spoke to the visitors about unity, fellowship and the importance of overcoming hatred and enmity. He began by saying:
The object of my undertaking such a long journey with all its inconveniences has been to bring about spiritual illumination in the Occident, for the Occident has great capacity and its people are less fettered by vain imaginings and imitations. Lofty ideals find a quick acceptance among them and today the loftiest ideal of all is devotion to the unity of mankind and universal peace.
In the afternoon there were two public meetings at the LaSalle Hotel. One was for the Federation of Women's Clubs80
and the other for the Unitarian congregation.81
`Abdu'l-Bahá's first talk was on education and the rights of women and in the latter He spoke about human powers and gave proofs of the existence of God. Both talks were so impressive, charming and attractive that all the friends from the East and West offered thanks and glorification to the Abhá Kingdom, with smiles on their faces that were like roses in bloom.
Back at the Plaza Hotel, `Abdu'l-Bahá responded to questions about the differences in capacities and talents among people, saying:
Souls possess two types of capacity: one is derived from innate powers and the other is acquired through the education imparted by the Teacher of the world of humanity. The development of innate capacity is completely dependent on education and on man's own exertions. In other words, innate capacity is not realized without education and exertion on the part of man and its perfection demands effort and training.
Question: `How should one associate with people of bad character?' `Abdu'l-Bahá replied:
This, too, has two aspects. There are certain evils whose consequences affect the doer only and do not extend to others. Of course, with discretion and tact, we must try to warn and educate wrongdoers. They are sick; we must bring healing to them. But there are actions which are injurious to others. Association with persons who commit such deeds leads to a deterioration of morals and therefore to mingle with them is not advisable, except for persons of perfect integrity, who can also impart education. They should be exhorted to exert themselves to modify their morals and refine their behavior. The public should be protected from such harmful conduct by the institutions which administer justice. Thus, in the Tablets of the Blessed Beauty, although He commends association with people of all religions and races, He also forbids fellowship with the wicked, admonishing us to shun the people of negation and denial.
Several learned men, scientists, engineers and government officials visited `Abdu'l-Bahá today.
Friday, May 3, 1912
From early morning friends and inquirers visited `Abdu'l-Bahá in twos and threes, all profusely offering their thanks and praise for the favors they had received from Him.
Today the members of an association of Indians residing in Chicago, who had previously attended `Abdu'l-Bahá's receptions, arrived as one body and after obtaining His permission, read Him an address of welcome:
From the Society of Indians Residing in Chicago to His Holiness `Abdu'l-Bahá `Abbás. In the Name of God!
We, the members of the Society of Indians Residing in Chicago welcome you to this country. The Cause that has brought your Excellency to this country is most surely a source of honor and grace to us. Asia has always been the dawning-place of religions: Muhammad, Christ, Buddha and Confucius were born in that enlightened continent; and we confidently believe that at this time, too, Asia will again usher in the universal principles of accord. The Bahá'í Cause, like the Cause of the Buddha, will be a source of uniting nations and will be a fulfillment of the teachings of our forefathers. Although Asia presently is in a state of backwardness, we console ourselves with the thought that although we are lacking in material progress, yet, concerning spirituality, we are the pride of the world.
We feel happy when we realize that through your Excellency, the means for the acquisition of Western arts and sciences will become available for those in the East and that the youth of Persia will come to these parts to acquire material knowledge and broaden their thinking and will return to their homes to benefit their brothers and sisters in the East on the road to progress.
Further, we believe that our country, India, will greatly benefit from a visit from your Excellency. The lack of unity between the Hindus and Muslims has kept them in the utmost contention and strife. As your Excellency's teachings are very much like the teachings of our religious leaders, they will undoubtedly unite them and make these contending nations one. We are certain that you will receive the same warmth and honor in India as here in America.
We pray to God to give your Excellency long life so that you may be enabled to convey your message to all mankind.
We are, most beloved Master, your sincere friends, the members of the Society of Indians Residing in Chicago.
More people gathered, forming a large group. The Master gave a public talk at the hotel on the gradual weakening of man's physical and material powers and the effect on man of divine civilization and spiritual education. All were struck with the charm of `Abdu'l-Bahá's expression and the power of His argument. They openly expressed their conviction that the true salvation of the world of humanity lay in following the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh. The address by the Society of Indians and the testimony of others are examples for the fair-minded of the degree of attachment and attraction of the people, just as `a drop expresses oceans'.
In the evening the Bahá'ís consulted. `Abdu'l-Bahá sent us there and later joined us. He spoke briefly to the meeting but on the subject of the Mashriqu'l-Adhkár, the Master said, `I will not discuss this matter. It is the business of the consultative assembly.' Later He added: `If I were to speak about the Mashriqu'l-Adhkár, it would have to be built at once.'
In the early evening `Abdu'l-Bahá gave a very eloquent and impressive address for the Theosophical Society,82
which fascinated the audience, especially the members of the society.
Some of the friends had asked whether they could take photographs of `Abdu'l-Bahá. Several photographs were therefore taken in the park across from the hotel by Mr and Mrs Killius, two of the devoted believers. In one of the photographs `Abdu'l-Bahá is standing with a flower in His hand. In another He is with His entourage and in the third He is standing among the believers. Although photographs of the Master had been taken in other cities, these are better and more lifelike.
Saturday, May 4, 1912
As `Abdu'l-Bahá's stay in Chicago was drawing to a close, there were numerous meetings and receptions. In the morning some clergymen visited Him in His hotel room. At the usual daily reception, He spoke about the three kingdoms of nature and the need for comprehensive education. He then went to the Plymouth Congregational Church, which was magnificent and most beautifully decorated. Its rector, Dr [Joseph A.] Milburn,83
had seen the Master several times and was greatly attracted to Him. After the customary service, the rector introduced `Abdu'l-Bahá:
Having heard of the teachings and the peerless qualities of `Abdu'l-Bahá, I arranged to leave for `Akká. Then I was informed that `Abdu'l-Bahá, Himself, was coming to America. Now God has endowed us with a great blessing that `Abdu'l-Bahá has graced us with His presence here.
He then went on to give a detailed history and teachings of the Cause and introduced the Master as the Herald of Peace and the Son of God, `Abbás Effendi.
As the Master approached the pulpit, the congregation rose to their feet, and although they were in church, they greeted Him with prolonged applause and cheers of joy. `Abdu'l-Bahá called them to order then spoke about the manifestation of the center of illumination and the Sun of Truth which appears at different times at different points of the zodiac, thus illustrating the renewal of religions and the unity of the Messengers and the Holy Books. At the end of His talk He chanted a prayer in Persian in a melodious voice.
The hearts of the listeners were so attracted that the church seemed to be filled with the Holy Spirit. The people crowded around `Abdu'l-Bahá to the extent such that it became difficult for the Master and His companions to leave. Groups of people surrounded Him to shake His hand and to ask for His blessing. The most surprising thing about these meetings was that although most of the people had never before heard of the Bahá'í teachings, they were so attracted and fascinated that they would follow the Master in their cars from one meeting to another.
`Abdu'l-Bahá had lunch at the home of Dr Forde and after meeting with a few people, He left for the hotel, saying, `Let us walk for a while, and then take the tram.' Our host and some of us suggested that the distance was great and pointed out that Mr Forde's car was available. At our insistence, `Abdu'l-Bahá rode in the car but as it twice punctured its tires, He took the tram.
When `Abdu'l-Bahá arrived at the hotel, many people were already waiting for Him. He answered their questions, for which they were filled with gratitude. One person asked him about the future affairs of Asia and the countries in the East. `Abdu'l-Bahá gave a detailed answer:
No progress is possible except through the power of the Holy Spirit and the Cause of God. Each of the Manifestations of God appeared amongst a nation and in a country which outwardly had no means of salvation or progress. But no sooner had those nations come under the shelter of the Cause of God than they excelled all the civilized countries of the world. Today, whichever nation raises the standard of the oneness of humanity and comes under the shelter of this divine power will ultimately lead the whole world.
Question: `What is the difference between the Bahá'í religion and the other religions of the world?'
The foundation of all the religions is one and this foundation is truth. In this respect there is no difference between either the divine religions or their Founders. The subsidiary laws that pertain to the affairs of society differ. These social laws are subject to the demands of time and place, so they are modified in each age.
Question: `What are evil and bad qualities?'
There is no evil in the world of existence; rather, evil is the absence of goodness just as darkness is the absence of light.
Speaking of the exigencies of the material world and its creation, `Abdu'l-Bahá said:
It [the world of creation] calls for change and transformation. Without change there can be no composition or development. Change and transformation, decomposition and composition produce opposites. In the realm of reality, however, there are no opposites. Consider the world of the sun, which has neither darkness nor east and west. But owing to the exigencies of this world, there is night and day, light and darkness.
After answering these questions, `Abdu'l-Bahá went with Mrs [Corinne] True and other friends to a Chicago cemetery to offer prayers for the departed.84
In the early evening `Abdu'l-Bahá went to the All-Souls Church.85
A great excitement was also created among the people of this church. His eloquent address, given in sweet and melodious tones, concerned the missions of the Divine Manifestations of God and the peace and unity of humanity. He concluded His talk with a detailed account of the Most Great Manifestation, Bahá'u'lláh, and the influence of His exalted Word.
After members of the audience came to Him to shake His hand and express their thanks and devotion, He went to the home of Dr Melborne, the rector of the Congregational Church. There He gave a most impressive and eloquent talk on the benefits of peace and harmony and the harm caused by war and strife. He discussed the requisites for prosperity and the unity of humankind. It was the last night of His stay and the effect of His words was so deep and far-reaching that it is beyond description.
Sunday, May 5, 1912
As it was the last day of the Master's stay, there was much commotion among the friends visiting the Master's apartment. A large number of Bahá'ís and their children had gathered in the hotel's salon.86
`Abdu'l-Bahá embraced and kissed each child with love and kindness. Giving them flowers and sweets, He said to them:
According to Christ you are the children of the Kingdom and according to Bahá'u'lláh, the candles of the world of man, for your hearts are in the utmost purity and your spirits are sanctified. You are not soiled with the things of this world. Your hearts are pure and clean like the mirror. Your parents must bring you up with great kindness and must educate you in morals and praiseworthy attributes so that the virtues of the world of man may be exemplified perfectly in your characters and conduct, that you may progress in all fields of endeavor, may acquire knowledge of the arts and sciences, and may become the cause of the manifestation of eternal bounties and universal advancement.
Then addressing the entire assembly, He said:
I am going, but you must rise up to serve the Cause of God. Endeavor to keep your hearts sanctified and your intentions pure so that you may attract divine bounties. Remember, although the sun shines equally on all things, yet in the mirror its effulgence is intense, and not in the dark stone. The cause of this intensity and heat in the glass is its purity; without purity and cleanliness, these effects would never appear in it. Similarly, if rain fall on barren land, it produces nothing, but if it fall on pure fertile land, it makes it verdant and causes it to yield a harvest. This is the day in which only pure and chaste hearts can derive benefit from the eternal bounties and only pious souls can receive light from the ever-existent splendors. Praise be to God that ye believe in God, have faith in His words and are turned to His Kingdom. You have heard the voice of God and your hearts are delighted with the breezes of the Abhá paradise. Your intentions are good; your object is the will of God; and your desire is to render service to the Kingdom of God.
Therefore, you must gird up your loins with unswerving determination, you must be united among yourselves and you must not be irritated by one another. Your eyes must be turned always to the kingdom of God and not to the world of man. You must love His creation for His sake and not for your own. When you love one another for the sake of God you shall never be perturbed. No human being is perfect, every person has some flaw. If you look to your fellowman you will always be upset; but if you look to God it shall not be so, because the world of God is a world of perfection and endless mercy; therefore, you will love and show kindness to all for His sake. You must not look to the faults of others; you must look with the eye of forgiveness and pardon. The eye that regards faults sees nothing but faults and the eye that overlooks faults is fixed on the Creator of the souls. It is He Who has created all, has nurtured all, has endowed all with life and spirit and has given to all eyes and ears. Thus all are the signs of His power and for His sake we must love all, and show kindness to all, assist the poor, render help to the weak, heal the sick and educate the ignorant.
It is my desire that the union and harmony of the friends of Chicago may be an example for all the friends in America and that all creation may derive benefit from their behavior; that they may lead all. Then and only then shall the confirmations of the Abhá Kingdom and the bounties of the Sun of Reality encircle you.
Monday, May 6, 1912
[Chicago -- Cleveland]
`Abdu'l-Bahá left Chicago for Cleveland in the morning. As He was leaving, Bahá'ís and non-Bahá'ís surrounded Him like moths around a light, their hearts burning with thoughts of separation and tears flowing from their eyes.
The train reached Cleveland in the afternoon.87
Many friends and newspaper reporters were at the station to welcome Him. The reporters photographed Him with His companions and asked for an interview.
After making arrangements at the Euclid Hotel for His stay, `Abdu'l-Bahá gave the reporters permission to visit. He gave them an account of the history and teachings of the Cause. One of them questioned Him about His mission. He replied:
My message is the oneness of humanity and universal peace; the harmony of true science and religion; the equality of rights; the elimination of religious, racial and political prejudices; the truth of all the divine religions; the removal of religious imitations and superstitions; the education of women to such a degree that they may have equal rights with men; the adjustment of the economic condition of all people so that if a rich man enjoys honor and affluence, the poor man may also have a mat to lie on and a house to dwell in; the establishment of spiritual civilization; the reformation of human morals; the unity of all religions, so that when the people of the world recognize the truth of all religions, they may become united since truth is one -- if they follow imitation, war and dissension shall remain, because imitations are the cause of differences.
After an hour, He left the hotel for Dr Swingle's home for a meeting with the Bahá'ís.88
After He had some tea, He entered a room that was filled to capacity. He spoke to the friends about the prosperity of America and the perfecting of material civilization with spiritual refinement, the rising of the Sun of Truth, the raising of the divine call and spreading the teachings of God. The friends were deeply moved and full of admiration. Through their meeting with Him, they had found new life. At the beginning of the meeting, a photograph was taken of Him with His companions and some of the friends.
In the evening, the auditorium of the Euclid Hotel was full and there was standing room only.89
About five hundred Bahá'ís and non-Bahá'ís were enchanted by His charm and speech. The meeting began and ended with music. The audience was most appreciative of `Abdu'l-Bahá's talk on the necessity of religion, the dangers of war and the benefits of love, unity and harmony.
Tuesday, May 7, 1912
[Cleveland -- Pittsburgh]
Early in the morning `Abdu'l-Bahá received newspapers giving news of His arrival, His addresses and the meetings of the Bahá'ís, and describing the respect shown to Him, each report having a photograph of Him taken with us.
Shortly afterwards He received a letter from a dignitary of the city, who stated that after reading the newspapers and reflecting on the teachings of the Cause, he was convinced of its truth and greatness and wished to submit to `Abdu'l-Bahá a statement of his conviction and recognition of the Faith.
We left Cleveland at 8:00 a.m., arriving in Pittsburgh around noon. The friends in Pittsburgh, who had been informed by telegram of `Abdu'l-Bahá's arrival, were waiting at the station. When the train pulled in, they were overjoyed to see Him and followed Him to the Hotel Schenley where He was staying.
After an hour's brief rest, `Abdu'l-Bahá received many people who had been invited by the friends to meet Him. Some were leaders of the Jewish community who invited Him to address their congregations. However, owing to a previous commitment at the Peace Congress in New York City, He was not able to accept their invitation.
There was a large meeting in the evening at the hotel for the friends in Pittsburgh.90
`Abdu'l-Bahá spoke on the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh, His address ending with these words: `The East must acquire material civilization from the West and the West must learn divine civilization from the East.' Everyone expressed their appreciation of the teachings with the utmost sincerity.
A little later a group of philosophers, doctors and journalists met with `Abdu'l-Bahá. He spoke to them in detail about composition and decomposition and the diagnosis of disease:
If one is fully cognizant of the reason for the incursion of disease and can determine the balance of elements, he can cure diseases by administering the food that can restore the normal level of the deficient element. In this way there will be no need for medicines and other difficulties will not arise.
After a detailed discussion of this subject, He asked them, `Although animals do not know the science of medicine, why, when they are sick, do they abstain instinctively from what is injurious to them and eat foods that are beneficial, while man, when ailing, inclines more to that which is injurious to him?' They had no answer to this question and stated that the Master knew the answer better than they.
`Abdu'l-Bahá then gave a description of the extraordinary power of the world of humanity and the freedom of man from the limitations of nature:
Since man's attention is not confined to one interest, his negligence is greater; while his comprehension is greater than that of all other creatures when it is focused and fixed on one subject.
Thus did the Master speak to the group of journalists, philosophers and doctors, who thanked Him for His discourse.
Wednesday, May 8, 1912
[Pittsburgh -- Washington DC]
Early in the morning, as the Master was having tea, preparations were underway to continue our journey. We received copies of some of the newspapers carrying accounts of `Abdu'l-Bahá's visit and His explanations of the most intricate problems of life and the influence that the Cause had had in that city. Every day the call of the Cause of God was awakening the inhabitants of Cleveland and Pittsburgh who had been asleep on the bed of negligence and this was increasingly reported.
The time for the Peace Congress, which the Master had promised to attend, was fast approaching. He moved like lightning from place to place and at each He tore asunder the veils of vain imaginings. In a very short time He accomplished many great tasks. Because the meetings in these cities had been scheduled in advance, several were held in one day and thousands of people were attracted and transformed by Him.
`Abdu'l-Bahá left Pittsburgh at 9:00 a.m. and at 9:00 p.m. the friends in Washington DC, who were anxiously awaiting His arrival at the railway station, were overjoyed to see Him.91
At every stop He had been shown such great respect that it was like the bowing and bending of the cypress trees, demonstrating the power of the spiritual springtime and the tranquillity and flourishing of the garden of humanity. After lunch on the train, some of the friends pleaded with Him to secure a cabin that He might sleep and get some rest. He replied: `I make certain expenditures only to help people and to serve the Cause of God; and since my childhood I have never liked distinctions.' He spoke for some time on this subject and warned us against making such personal distinctions.
When the Master arrived in Washington DC He was driven to a house especially rented for Him at 14 Harvard Street,92
which was near Mrs Parsons's home. Joining us today were Dr Zia Bagdadi of Chicago, the son of Muhammad Mustafa Bagdadi, and Mírzá Ahmad Sohrab of Washington DC, both of whom were given the tasks of translating and writing.
The Master spoke today about the meaning of the prophecies and signs of the Day of the Manifestation of God:
Through their ignorance of these meanings people have always remained veiled from the manifestations of the bounties of Him Who is the Causer of Causes. Although in the divine scriptures mention is made of a heaven and an earth other than the physical heaven and earth, yet they have interpreted these signs literally and have deprived themselves of spiritual worlds and divine knowledge.
`Abdu'l-Bahá then went to Mrs Parsons's home where He spoke about the teachings on economics to the friends, who were extremely pleased with His explanation.
Thursday, May 9, 1912
There was a continuous going and coming of visitors at the Master's house from morning until noon. `Abdu'l-Bahá had lunch at Mrs Parsons's, where in the afternoon He received many people. In the evening He addressed a well-attended meeting, speaking on the principles and tenets of the Faith and counseling the friends to pay no attention to those who objected to the Cause. As the fame of `Abdu'l-Bahá and the Cause spread, certain narrow-minded ministers had, out of jealously, raised their voices in opposition. At the end of the meeting the Master said:
Although I pay great respect to the feelings of people in order that they may not run away or make the least objection, yet the religious ministers of Washington have denounced us.
Then He said:
The denunciation by the leaders of religion is a proof of the greatness and influence of the Cause because no one pays any attention to something insignificant.
Today various clergymen invited the Master to honor their churches by addressing their congregations. He told them that He was unable to accept because He had limited time but that He would be returning to Washington DC.
Friday, May 10, 1912
Several distinguished people came to visit `Abdu'l-Bahá in the morning. After a private interview involving lengthy questions and answers, He spoke in detail on the preeminence and progress of this century and the decline of the dogmatic formalism of the nations.
In the afternoon `Abdu'l-Bahá spoke to a gathering of distinguished women on the rights and education of women. Later, after a drive in the park, He visited a home for the poor which had been established through the efforts of Mrs [Alice Barney-] Hemmick. In the evening, He spoke about the influence of the Cause of God, the spiritual power of Bahá'u'lláh, ending His talk with loving exhortations to the Bahá'ís.
The Master dined at the home of Mrs Hemmick and Mme Dreyfus-Barney. Everyone was delighted to be in His presence and floated in a sea of happiness until late at night listening to His loving admonitions and exhortations.93
Saturday, May 11, 1912
[Washington DC -- New York]
The Master made preparations to leave for New York. Some people who had not been able to see Him previously came to visit and He spoke to them about His journey and the spreading of universal peace, which is one of the commandments of Bahá'u'lláh.
`Abdu'l-Bahá left for the railway station, where several believers were waiting to bid Him farewell. They were down-hearted at being separated from their Beloved, who had showered them with such kindness and blessings.94
In New York, the friends who were waiting for the Master took Him to the Hudson building on Riverside Drive where He was to stay.95
He said to them:
We went to Chicago and Washington and now we have come back again. Time passed very pleasantly. The people of America are highly accomplished. They desire to acquire understanding and they wish to make progress. When one sees a tree growing, one should feel hopeful that it will give flowers and bring forth fruits. People asked questions and on hearing the answers they contended no more. Most of the ministers who came would express agreement. Those who asked us questions on important topics were delighted on hearing the answers. The religious leaders of other countries are not so inclined but are more bent on contention. We met very good ministers in Chicago. Some invited us to their churches and we had lengthy conversations with them. One of them, Dr Milburn, invited us to supper at his home. My purpose in mentioning all this is to convey that all showed agreement and acceptance.
Just yesterday we spoke in Washington with a number of notable persons, judges, and also a friend of Roosevelt.96
As we were talking about the unifying influence of different religions, and concord among nations, this friend said that Christ was a source of differences. But when we explained to him the coming together of different nations under the canopy of the word of Christ, he smiled and accepted the point. Others, too, expressed great delight. When I asked him if he had any other question or objection, he replied that he had none at all. When asked if he accepted all these statements, he said, `All right.'97
When the Master spoke the words `all right' in English, the friends were amused and a ripple of laughter went around the room. He then spoke on the unification of the blacks and whites of America.98
That evening at a public reception at His home, `Abdu'l-Bahá spoke about the divine favors bestowed on the people of Bahá and encouraged the friends to be grateful for such bestowals and blessings.
Sunday, May 12, 1912
[New York -- New Jersey -- New York]
In the morning, after prayers, the Master had tea and remarked that `Although we have not had sufficient rest yet we have to go to Montclair today to speak at the Unity Church there.'
He left with His companions, took a ferry for New Jersey and later boarded a train for Montclair. After an hour's journey, we arrived at the home of Mr [Charles] Edsall, through whom the rector of the church had invited the Master. After greeting the friends, `Abdu'l-Bahá went to the church where the rector, Dr Edgar S. Wiers, was waiting for Him at the entrance. He took the Master's hand most reverently and accompanied Him to the pulpit, as well as showing us to our seats. After the service, he introduced the `Great Mystery of God' saying, `Today we shall read from the New Gospel, that is, from the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh instead of the Bible.' The minister then read a few selections from previously translated Tablets and said:
A few years ago a monument was erected in Genoa, Italy. Its purpose was to commemorate the memory of a Protestant martyred by the Catholics through religious prejudice. On the statue was engraved these wise words, `The greatest achievements of the last centuries have been the elimination of religious prejudice and the extension of human thought.' But now I say that these words have not been fully realized and prejudice continues to hold its sway to a degree.
Now there comes a matchless Cause which does away with all prejudices. It is the new teaching of the Bahá'í Faith, which has stirred the religions of the world and has sacrificed some twenty thousand persons to root out prejudice. The East has always been the dawning-point of divine religions. That land is the mother of all religions. The West is in extreme need of such peace because of its excessive armaments and its many wars.
Although it has spread only recently to the West, the Bahá'í Cause will erelong encompass the entire hemisphere. And now from the leader of this mighty Cause you will hear an important message. It is truly our good fortune that this holy man is journeying in many parts of the world and has now come to this church to deliver the news of the great peace to us. I am greatly honored to introduce His Holiness `Abdu'l-Bahá `Abbás and to say that He is one of the great prophets of the world and one of the chosen ones of God.99
After this introduction the Master stood up and the entire congregation, out of respect, immediately rose and remained standing until He bade them be seated with a wave of His hand. He spoke in a melodious and eloquent voice, beginning His speech by discussing the oneness of God and His Holy Manifestations and concluding with the statement that in every age the Sun of Truth appears within a sign of the zodiac. At the end He chanted a very touching prayer. As at every such meeting, the effect of `Abdu'l-Bahá's talk had to be seen, for it is difficult to describe. 100
As `Abdu'l-Bahá left the church, many surrounded Him and shook His hand, each one attracted, each heart full of eagerness, each soul inclined towards the Master and every eye turned towards Him, each supplicating and yearning for the confirmations of the Kingdom. Not one mind was bereft of eagerness and no heart failed to be immersed in the sea of joy.
`Abdu'l-Bahá returned to Mr Edsall's home where several Bahá'ís and seekers had gathered, including the minister and his wife, to have lunch with Him. All were overjoyed to be with Him. `Abdu'l-Bahá was exceedingly happy and the gathering became the envy of heaven.
After lunch and a little rest, another group came to visit `Abdu'l-Bahá and another meeting was held with eagerness and excitement. The Master spoke with animation, encouraging the friends and guiding the true seekers. Before He left, the minister brought out the church's guest book, requesting that the Master write a prayer in His own hand. He do so at once:
He is God! O Lord! O Pure One! Thanks be to Thee that, traversing mountains and deserts and crossing the great ocean we were enabled to reach this country and utter Thy Name and manifest Thy signs in these regions. Even in this church we have raised our voice to Thy Kingdom like unto Elijah. O God! Attract the members of this church to Thy beauty, protect and shield them in Thine own shelter and bless them.
Time passed so happily that the Master promised the friends in Montclair a second visit. He then returned to New York.
In the evening `Abdu'l-Bahá went to the Grace Methodist Church in New York to speak to the public meeting of the Peace Forum.102
He spoke on the purpose of the Prophets of God, the peace and unity of humankind and the coming of Bahá'u'lláh who would establish and promote these divinely-ordained teachings. His talk ignited such a fire in the listeners' hearts that all became as moths with scorched wings. In this meeting, too, the members of the audience, with one accord, stood when the Master appeared before them, which seemed extraordinary to everyone.`Abdu'l-Bahá gave this address:
If we look at history, we find that from the beginning to the present day strife and warfare have existed among mankind. It has either been religious warfare, warfare of races, warfare among nations or a war between two countries. All these wars were due to the ignorance of humanity, were the product of misunderstandings or were the results of the lack of the education of humankind.
The greatest wars and massacres were perpetrated in the name of religion. Yet the sole purpose for which the divine Prophets appeared was none other than the establishment of love and goodwill among mankind. These Prophets were shepherds and not wolves. Shepherds are to protect and collect their flocks and not to scatter them. Every divine shepherd has gathered together a certain flock which had been scattered. Moses was one of them. He assembled the various tribes of Israel and created love among them and led them on their way to the Holy Land. From their scattered state, He drew them together, united them and caused their development. Hence their degradation was transformed into glory, their poverty changed into wealth, their vices were replaced by virtues and finally they established the Kingdom of Solomon and the fame of their glory reached the East and the West. Therefore, it is obvious that Moses was a divine shepherd, for He assembled the scattered tribes of Israel and united them.
When Christ appeared, He too became the cause of the gathering of the scattered sheep. He united the dispersed flock of Israel with those of the Greeks, Romans, Chaldeans, Syrians and Egyptians. These nations were in a state of war and strife with one another, shedding one another's blood and tearing one another apart like ferocious animals.
But Christ united, assembled and cemented them together by creating affinity among them so that strife and warfare were entire extirpated. Therefore, it is manifest that the divine religions were the cause of love and affection. Divine religion is never a cause of discord and disagreement. If religion be the cause of strife, its nonexistence is preferable because religion must be the source of life. If it be the cause of death, its absence is desirable and irreligion is preferable. Religious teachings are like unto remedies. If a remedy be the cause of disease, the absence of such a remedy is desirable.
Likewise, when the Arabian tribes were in a state of rancor and strife, engaged in shedding one another's blood, plundering one another's property, imprisoning one another's wives and children and leading a warlike life in the peninsula of Arabia, and when no solitary soul enjoyed composure nor a single tribe was at ease, at such a time Muhammad appeared. He gathered, reconciled, united and cemented the different tribes so that all strife and warfare vanished from among them. The Arabian nation developed to such a degree that they founded the sovereignty of Andalusia [Spain] and established the mighty Caliphate.
From these evidences we must infer that the basic purpose of divine religion is to promote peace and not war. The foundation of the religions of God is one reality. It is love; it is truth; it is the promotion of fellowship and amity. These wars are the outcome of imitations which crept in subsequently. The essence of religion is one reality which constitutes the foundation Truth of the religions of God. There is no difference in the essence; the difference lies in imitations. Due to this difference in imitations, discord and strife take place. If imitations are eliminated from religions and the foundation Truth alone is followed, all of them would agree, and strife and discord would disappear, for religion is reality and reality is one and does not admit of plurality.
Racial distinctions and national differences are purely imaginary. Humanity is one in essence; it is one progeny of a common ancestor inhabiting the same globe; and there is no difference in the original genesis and creation of God. God has created all humanity. He has not created Frenchmen, Englishmen, Americans or Persians. There is no difference in regard to race. All are the leaves of one tree, the waves of the same sea, the fruit of one tree and the flowers of the same garden. Let us turn to the animal kingdom, where there is no distinction among them with regard to kind. The sheep of the East and the West graze together; no sheep of the East will regard a sheep of the West as a stranger and an alien. They graze together in the same pasture most harmoniously and affectionately. There are no racial dissensions or disputes regarding kind among them. Likewise the oriental and occidental birds, for example, the pigeons, will be found to live together in genuine love and amity. There is absolutely no racial distinction among them. Such fanciful concepts do not exist among animals, although they lack the faculty of reason. Is it becoming for man to observe such vain thoughts, notwithstanding the fact that he is endowed with reason, perceptive faculty and thinking power and is the repository of the divine trust? With all these bestowals how does he permit himself to yield to these erroneous superstitions by saying `I am a German', `I am a Frenchman', `I am an Englishman' or `I am an Italian'? Through these superstitions they wage war against one another. Is this becoming? God forbid! It is not. If the animal does not condescend to follow such superstitions, why should man be willing to stoop to such low ideas which are nothing but superstition and pure imagination?
Is it proper to foster wars and feuds on account of nativity -- such as Eastern and Western, Northern or Southern? No, by God! These, too, are sheer superstitions and mere fanciful imaginations. The whole earth is but one land and one home. Therefore, man must not allow himself to adhere to these superstitions.
God be praised! I have come from the East and find the American continent is prosperous, its climate is most delightful, its inhabitants are extremely courteous and its government is fair and just. Is it becoming for me to say, `This land is not my country and therefore it does not deserve any consideration?' This would be utter prejudice to which man must not yield. He must, instead, investigate reality, which consists in that all humanity is one in kind and the whole earth is one home. Hence it is proven that the cause of every warfare and bloodshed is purely imaginary and has absolutely no foundation.
Consider what is taking place in Tripoli due to Italy's disregard for law. Many of the helpless are being killed, thousands of men are being slain every day on both sides. How many are the children who become fatherless, the fathers who become childless and the mothers who bemoan the loss of their dear children. What is the result after all? Nothing. Is it just that man should be so reckless? Consider how animals with a blessed disposition are entirely free from war and strife. Although thousands of sheep graze together and thousands of flocks of pigeons fly together, war never takes place among them. But ferocious animals, such as wolves and dogs, are always fighting and attacking one another. However, these ferocious animals are necessarily compelled to hunt for food, whereas man does not stand in such need. He is capable of earning his livelihood. Men shed blood from greed, love for self-glory and desire for fame. The leaders of the nations enjoy delightful luxuries in their palatial buildings and only the poor are sent to bear the brunt in the battlefield. Every day new instruments are invented for destruction of the very foundation of the human race. The leaders are utterly devoid of all feelings of mercy toward those helpless ones and show no pity to the mothers who have tended their children so lovingly, having passed many sleepless nights and spent many laborious days in nurturing and bringing their children to maturity. Is it becoming that parents should be made to see thousands of the dear young ones torn to pieces in one day in the battlefield? What savagery! What heedlessness! What ignorance! What hostility! What animosity!
Ferocious animals rend only that which is necessary to meet their requirements; for instance, the wolf kills only one sheep a day. But an unjust man slaughters one hundred thousand of his kind in a day and glorifies in this action, saying, `How brave I am! What a feat of courage I have shown! I have killed in one day one hundred thousand of my kind and have destroyed a whole country.' Consider to what extent man is ignorant and heedless! If a man kills another person -- one single soul -- he is called a murderer and he receives capital punishment or life imprisonment. But the man who kills one hundred thousand of his kind in one day is extolled as the greatest general and the greatest hero of the world. If a man steals a single dollar, he is called a cruel thief, whereas if a general ransacks the whole country, he is pronounced a conqueror of the world. What ignorance! What heedlessness!
Among the various religions and denominations in Persia there existed animosity, envy and hatred. In Asia religions were hostile toward one another, the sects sought to murder one another, the races were filled with hatred and the tribes were constantly at war. They considered that the greatest glory for man was to be able to kill, to slaughter many of his kind. If one religion succeeded in prevailing over another religion and in killing the adherents thereof, the first took pride in such deeds. This was the time when Bahá'u'lláh appeared in Persia. He founded the oneness of the world of humanity and established the foundations of universal peace. He declared that all men are the servants of God Who created all and provides for all. He is kind to all. Why should we be unkind? God is compassionate and merciful to all His creatures. Why should we entertain animosity or spite? God loves all. God provides for all. He trains us all and He is kind to all. Our duty is to be kind and loving to all. This is the divine polity. We must follow the polity of God. Is it possible that the human polity should be better than the divine polity? Certainly, it is not. Therefore we must emulate the divine polity. As God deals with all humanity affectionately and kindly, so must we deal with each and every one. Bahá'u'lláh laid the foundation of universal peace and proclaimed the oneness of mankind. He preached throughout the East the lessons of peace and goodwill. On this subject He sent to all the kings epistles encouraging and admonishing them. He made it evident that the glory of humanity lies in peace and reconciliation. This occurred about sixty years ago. Because He promulgated universal peace, the kings of the Orient rose against Him, as they regarded such teachings to be in conflict with their personal ambitions and interests. They arose to persecute and molest Him in divers ways, exiled Him and eventually confined Him to a fortress. They arose against His followers as well. For the sake of this teaching, which sought the abandonment of superstitions and imitations and promoted the establishment of the unity of mankind, the blood of twenty thousand Bahá'ís was spilled. How many homes were destroyed! How many persons were slaughtered and killed! Yet the friends of Bahá'u'lláh stood firm and steady, and up to this date they have endeavored with head and heart to promulgate peace and harmony, having shown their adherence to this principle by their actions.
Men of all denominations who have accepted the teaching of Bahá'u'lláh invariably support the cause of international peace and practice the principle of unity of mankind. They have the utmost love for all men because they know that all are the servants of God, that they belong to one kind and that they have a common descent. At the utmost, those who are ignorant must be educated, those who are sick must be treated, those who are children must be educated and trained. We must not regard children as enemies, we must not be annoyed with patients but we must treat the sick and must teach and educate those who are ignorant. Therefore the essentials of the foundation of the religions of God are love and amity among all humanity. If a divine religion should be productive of discord and hatred, it is not divine; for religion must be the cause of binding together and the means of infusing love and amity. Mere knowledge of anything is not sufficient. We all know that justice is good but there is the need for volition and executive power to carry it out. For example, we know it is good to construct a place of worship but the mere knowledge will not bring about its existence. We should exercise our will to build it. Wealth is needed for its erection; knowledge alone will not suffice. All of us know that peace is good, that it is conducive to the existence of humanity but this needs to be put into effect, it needs action. As this is the century of light which has the capacity for peace, these ideals will necessarily spread and attain the status of fulfillment and action. Time, itself, will raise up those who will promote the cause of peace. Within all countries peace exists. When I came to America I found its people supporters of peace and possessing great capacity, its government just, and equality established among its people. I desire that the light of peace be first shed abroad from America to the rest of the world. The people of America have greater competence to perform this task; that country is not like others. If Great Britain should come forward in support of this cause, it is apt to be interpreted that she is doing so for the preservation of her own interests. If France should stand up in its support, it may be said that she has done so in order to ensure the safety of her colonies. If Russia should proclaim it, she would be supposed to have done so in pursuance of the interests of her sovereignty. But the American nation, it is admitted, does not have such colonial possessions, is not anxious to extend its dominion and is not designing the invasion of other countries. Therefore, if America takes steps in this direction, all are certain to acknowledge that this is solely the outcome of her moral courage, her zeal and sense of honor, and that she has no ulterior motives.
Therefore, it is my desire that you may hold aloft this banner because you are preeminently fit for it. All countries are in readiness for this and the demand for international peace is very high everywhere because the people are in distress. Every year the powers increase the expenditure of war and so the people are tired. At this moment the subterranean storehouses of Europe are full of arms and ammunition and hellish armaments are about to exterminate the foundation of mankind.
The basic foundations for peace and amity are found in the principles of divine religions. If misunderstandings among religions disappear you will see that all work for peace and promulgate the oneness of humankind, for the foundation of all is one; it is truth, and truth is neither multiple nor divisible. The light of this reality shone forth in all the Prophets. For example, Moses promulgated this reality, Jesus established this reality, Muh
ammad advocated this reality, the Báb proclaimed this reality, Bahá'u'lláh upheld the standard of this reality and He promulgated universal peace and the unity of mankind. In the prison He rested not until He planted the banner of peace in the East. All the people who have accepted the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh are peace-lovers and are ever ready to sacrifice their lives and properties for it. As America is renowned for her material progress and for her scientific inventions and colossal undertakings, may she also exert noble efforts for the realization of universal peace, so that she may receive Divine help in this undertaking. May this great principle spread from her to other countries. I pray that all of you may succeed and be confirmed.103
Monday, May 13, 1912
From morning until the afternoon there was a constant stream of visitors and friends. Then the Master went to another meeting of the New York Peace Society.104
The moment He entered the spacious hall of the Hotel Astor, the audience broke into such hearty cheers that the very walls of the building echoed. There were some two thousand people in the audience and when Mírzá Valíyu'lláh Kh
án-i-Varqá and I wished to enter, there was no room. However, the Persian fezes we wore were like crowns of honor and signs of respect. Whoever saw us knew at once that we were the servants of His threshold and assisted us to pass through the crowd until we reached `Abdu'l-Bahá so that we could record His words.
Many people welcomed `Abdu'l-Bahá with beautiful flowers of varying hues. The beauty of this great peace congress and the eloquence of all the speakers are tributes to `Abdu'l-Bahá.
Mrs [Anna Garland] Spencer introduced `Abdu'l-Bahá, describing Him as the Prophet of the East and the Messenger of Peace. Dr Grant spoke of the calamities that had befallen the Master and His imprisonment for the sake of establishing peace among the peoples of the world. The Consul General of Persia [Mr Topakyan] referred to `Abdu'l-Bahá as the Beauty of God and the Glory of the East. Professor Jackson, who had visited Persia, said that peace, prosperity and security would only be attained through this blessed Cause. The president of the society [Dr Stephen S. Wise] then gave an explanation of `Abdu'l-Bahá's name and welcomed Him most warmly. The Master stood and a great excitement rippled through the audience. Although the Master was tired owing to His many speaking engagements and the difficulties of the journey, and His voice was hoarse, He delivered an incomparable speech. First He thanked the audience for its great love and kindness. He then spoke about the problems associated with peace, giving an explanation of some of the verses and commandments of Bahá'u'lláh regarding unity and the oneness of humanity. The audience was deeply moved. Every eye beheld that gathering as a court of power and majesty where all, like poets, praised in the most beautiful words and verses the Temple of Servitude. Verily, no desire remained unmet for us, the servants of His threshold. We witnessed with our own eyes the victory and confirmation of the Abhá Kingdom. `Abdu'l-Bahá repeatedly said, `Although I say always that I am `Abdu'l-Bahá, a servant of God, still people refer to me as a messenger and a prophet. It would be better if they would not attribute such titles to me.'
In the evening there was a meeting at `Abdu'l-Bahá's residence with people from India and Japan. He spoke to them in detail, saying:
India had a great civilization in former times. That civilization spread from that part of Asia to Syria and Egypt; from Syria it was extended to Greece from whence it found its way to Arabia and Spain. Again, from Spain it spread over most of Europe. The world of man, however, has not yet reached its maturity. The time will come when this material civilization will be infused with divine civilization. Universal peace will be realized and people will become angelic. That will be the time of the world's maturity.
Tuesday, May 14, 1912
As `Abdu'l-Bahá was invited to Lake Mohonk, the venue for the conference of the International Peace Society, He made preparations to leave. This conference was the greatest of all the peace conferences in America. It was held in a most ideal location and many dignitaries and delegates from various countries had been invited to attend. Lake Mohonk is four hours away from New York by train. At the train station special landaus105
were waiting to take the guests to the conference site. The Master took one of these and went to the Hotel Lake Mohonk. He praised the beauty of the place and the scenic grandeur of the route as His carriage drove for about an hour amidst green valleys, wooded hills, woodlands, waterfalls and natural springs. The conference was to last for three days. Each day two long sessions were held in the spacious hall of the hotel facing the lake, the hall having been especially built for the conference.
On the first evening, `Abdu'l-Bahá's name was at the head of the program. All the members and delegates were anxious to hear His address. The president [of the International Peace Society, Mr Smiley] introduced the Master with the utmost respect and glowing words of praise. Then `Abdu'l-Bahá stood and spoke. A new spirit and a new excitement seemed to prevail over the gathering. During the day most of the delegates had been engaged in materialistic issues. Their thoughts had been concentrated on effecting the union of the interior of the United States of America. In the evening, however, they found themselves puzzled when they heard the eloquent, elegant address from the Master concerning the unity of all people, the reformation of the whole world and the Manifestation of the Greatest Name which would bring about the oneness of the world of humanity and the promulgation of the teachings of universal peace. He spoke for about 20 minutes, the time allotted to Him in the program. According to the custom of the West, the audience applauded for a long time when He ceased speaking. They requested that He continue but because He was tired He apologized and with a gesture of His hand bestowed kindness on all. One by one, dignitaries and delegates from many countries came to shake His hand. Some of them embraced Him and expressed their thanks. The president again stood, offered thanks and spoke with great reverence on the importance of the teachings, praising and commending `Abdu'l-Bahá on behalf of the audience. Mr Smiley's wife then gave the Master a pendant especially made for the peace conference and thanked Him most joyfully.
Wednesday, May 15, 1912
The Master remained at Lake Mohonk. Many came into His presence and to each He taught the Cause of God, answering their questions in the way best suited to the understanding of the listener. Concerning the peace conference, He related a story:
Once I wrote to the Persian friends that if the workers of peace conferences do not apply in their own lives what they advocate, they are like those wine sellers who convene and make emphatic speeches regarding the harmfulness of wine and proposing its prohibition. But when they go out of the meeting, they begin again to sell wine and to do what they were doing in the past. Therefore it is necessary for the power of execution and effect to spiritually penetrate the body of the world.
The Master gave two addresses at this conference. At the request of the president, He wrote in detail explanations of the divine questions, which were to be published in a book recording the proceedings of the conference. A copy of the other address which He gave on the first evening was written by us.
Thursday, May 16, 1912
[Lake Mohonk -- New York]
Photographs of `Abdu'l-Bahá were taken together with His party. Many dignitaries visited Him and were attracted and ignited by His love. He then expressed His intention to return to New York. The president of the conference was reluctant for Him to leave. The Master replied, `As I have to see numerous people and speak to many audiences, I must leave.' The president remained in the presence of the Master with great reverence until He left. The Beloved presented the president with a good quality Persian carpet, for which he was very thankful.106
When the Master returned to New York, the friends came to see Him. They were delighted to hear that so many at the conference were attracted and paid attention to the Master's address. A few days later the talks He had given at the conference were published in a New York newspaper and thus provided guidance to many.
Friday, May 17, 1912
Many friends came to visit Him and when their numbers increased, the Master went into the assembly room and gave a lengthy talk that began with a description of the Lake Mohonk conference. He said that the influence and practice of peace and the unity of nations could only be accomplished through the power of the Holy Spirit.
When He was tired during these days He would often go alone in the afternoon to the park near Riverside Drive. He explained: `When I sleep on the grass, I obtain relief from exhaustion and am freed from cares. If I am not alone, I will talk and perspire and will not become relaxed and free of cares.' As always, people were continually coming and going both day and night. Everyone was anxious to see Him and He spoke to them continuously. It was impossible for Him to get any rest except when He went out alone.
Saturday, May 18, 1912
Among those visiting `Abdu'l-Bahá were some New York clergymen. One of them, Dr John H. Randall, while the Master and His retinue had been absent, had spoken to his congregation about the life and teachings of `Abdu'l-Bahá. He expressed the hope that he would follow in the footsteps of the Master. So effective was his talk that many of his listeners burst into tears. He came with great humility to ask `Abdu'l-Bahá to deliver an address in his church. `Abdu'l-Bahá replied that since He had been invited to speak that week at several gatherings in Boston, He was not able to accept the invitation until after He returned.
This morning `Abdu'l-Bahá spoke to the people in the Church of the Divine Paternity.107
The minister of the church, Dr [Frank Oliver] Hall, spoke at length on the manifestation of the Báb and Bahá'u'lláh, giving a detailed account of the appointed successor and the Covenant of God. He explained that the meaning of the name of `Abdu'l-Bahá was that He was under the canopy of the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh and concluded by saying that this Cause is the same reality that underlies all the religions of God and will become the cause of brotherhood, concord and universal peace.
The beloved Master stood and delivered an address about the unity of religions and the teachings of the new Manifestation in such a way that all were attracted to the divine fragrances. After His talk the audience pleaded with Him to allow them to line up on one side of the podium in order to shake His hand and then leave from the other side. Although they were permitted to do this, there was still such a crowd around the Master's carriage that it was difficult to proceed.
Sunday, May 19, 1912
[New York -- New Jersey]
The landlord [of `Abdu'l-Bahá's house] had complained about the excessive comings and goings of the visitors, therefore the Master chose the house of Mr and Mrs Kinney for the gatherings of the friends. Among the new people visiting `Abdu'l-Bahá were some Jewish rabbis.
That evening `Abdu'l-Bahá went to the Brotherhood Church in New Jersey. At the opening of the service, Dr [Howard Colby] Ives,108
who was greatly respected and sincere, highly praised `Abdu'l-Bahá. He stated that this great teacher and proclaimer of the Cause of God, since His arrival in America, had stayed at the Hotel Ansonia and had not accepted any assistance from anyone, bearing all of His expenses personally. Indeed, He had even liberally contributed to institutions and churches serving the poor. When Dr Ives finished speaking on the bounties of the Cause of God and the majesty of God's Covenant, the Master rose and delivered an address on spiritual brotherhood and the unity of the world of humanity. His talk increased the interest and yearning in the hearts of the listeners. Although all came to Him, one by one, to shake hands and depart, afterwards when He went into an inner room of the church, a crowd of people, after receiving permission, came to see Him and were delighted to hear the Master's explanations in response to their questions. All offered Him thanks and praise.
Monday, May 20, 1912
Among those visiting the Master at the Kinney's home were some narrow-minded Christian ministers. He spoke to them about the misunderstandings among Christians about Islam. After the Master spoke emphatically with reasoning and proofs to establish the reality of Islam, the ministers left humbly and joyfully, impressed by His explanations.
In the evening an enthusiastic gathering of women suffragists gathered to hear the Master's address.109
While riding in Mr Mills's automobile, the Master said: `You will learn of the value of this automobile later because it will be said that the servants of the Blessed Beauty sat in it.'
When He entered the gathering, the entire audience stood with great joy and excitement. The chairman of the meeting [Mrs Penfield] first gave an introductory account of the persecutions and imprisonment of the Master and explained the meaning of the name `Abdu'l-Bahá. The Master then spoke at length about the education and rights of women. There was great excitement in the audience, and, as in other gatherings, the people were deeply moved and both men and women shook His hand, supplicating for assistance.
Tuesday, May 21, 1912
In the morning and afternoon the Master delivered addresses at two public meetings.110
One consisted of admonitions from the Abhá Beauty, and the other, owing to His impending journey to Boston, was a farewell address to the friends, promising them a speedy return.
This afternoon many of the believers' children came to visit. He embraced them all with the utmost kindness and affection. He exhorted the friends to provide Bahá'í education and spirituality for these newborn trees of the Garden of Favor. To witness such meetings is a real joy. With great devotion, the young and old circled around `Abdu'l-Bahá like moths.
Wednesday, May 22, 1912
[New York -- Boston]
At 10:00 a.m. the Master left New York for Boston, arriving at the Hotel Charles at 4:30 p.m. Many delegates from organizations and groups had gathered at the railway station to greet and welcome Him. The believers had decorated a house with colorful flowers, having made all necessary preparations to receive Him.
That evening the first meeting in Boston was held at 8:00 p.m. for the American Unitarian Association Conference at the Tremont Temple, the largest of all of the churches in the region. The President of the Republic, Mr Taft, is also a member of this important association. Present at the conference were some 800 Unitarian ministers representing the Unitarian churches in America and Canada. In addition, there were nearly two thousand others assembled. The presiding officer of the meeting was the Lieutenant-Governor of Massachusetts [Robert Luce], who introduced the Master to the audience, saying:
Tonight we express our highest respect and heartfelt gratitude in this great gathering for this highly revered and peace-loving personage who has come from the East to the West to promote the principles of the oneness of humanity and universal peace. Indeed, it is a great joy and supreme honor that this esteemed personage has graced our meeting with His presence. It is my great honor to introduce to you His Holiness, `Abdu'l-Bahá.
When the Master stood up, the entire audience gave Him a prolonged standing ovation. Although in all meetings the audience has risen when the Master appeared, this gathering had a particular importance. The group was composed of elected representatives and leaders of many congregations from several countries and it was they who stood, demonstrating their reverence and to honor Him. The Master spoke about the progress and evolution of creation. It was so impressive that the audience applauded with elation and joy.
Thursday, May 23, 1912
Many Bahá'ís and non-Bahá'ís came group by group to visit the Master. His bestowals and favors revived their souls and brought joy to their hearts. In but five minutes one of the journalists was so impressed that he accepted the Cause and decided to write and publish articles on the Faith. As he left the gathering, he wept at the feet of the Beloved and most reverently supplicated to be confirmed in dedicating the rest of his life in service to the Cause.
At noon `Abdu'l-Bahá visited the house maintained for the poor of Syria and Greece [the Greek-Syrian Relief Society]. Members of this association had prepared lunch for Him with great care. The lady who was the president of the association had been busy making preparations for His reception. In one of the large rooms there was a table laden with various Eastern dishes. The Master was given the seat of honor to the right of the hostess, which, according to Western etiquette, is a sign of respect. Many association members were also present. Among the Master's comments at the table was this: `Happy are you who are engaged in serving the poor. My greatest happiness is this, that I may be counted among the poor.'
After lunch the Master gave an elegant address about poverty and detachment, filling the hearts of all those present with hope and delight. All, both young and old, expressed their heartfelt gratitude.
Upon leaving the meeting, He gave ten pounds for the poor. Later, sitting in Professor Blacks's111
home surrounded by admirers, He showered kindness upon all. The professor accompanied the Master to the town of Worcester, located about 50 miles from Boston.
Passing through green and verdant plains and breathing the invigorating and pleasant air, `Abdu'l-Bahá spoke sorrowfully in remembrance of the Blessed Beauty and the Greatest Name, saying: `Would that the Blessed Beauty could have come to these regions! He loved such scenery very much.' Whenever He saw the green and fragrant countryside, He asked the driver to stop. At one place, near the shore of a lake, the greenness of the landscape, the translucence of the water and the purity of the air so pleased Him that He instructed the driver to stop for awhile. The entire group stood and waited. No one dared say anything about the delay.
The Master spoke of the Blessed Beauty in mournful terms, which deeply moved us all. In two hours we reached Worcester. The Master accepted the professor's invitation to rest for awhile in his home. After tea `Abdu'l-Bahá went to the meeting at the university, which had been arranged especially for His visit. More than one thousand students and faculty had assembled. Professor Hall thanked `Abdu'l-Bahá for coming to the meeting.
The Master spoke on the value and importance of science. The hearts of those present were attracted and their souls enkindled with the fire of love to such a degree that they soared in the heaven of knowledge, their minds indelibly engraved with the words of the Master.
After His address, some distinguished individuals and seekers were invited to a magnificent reception prepared for the Master. As the chancellor of the university had himself invited `Abdu'l-Bahá, he himself served the Master. A number of Japanese, Chinese and Turkish students came into His presence and greatly appreciated His words.
When it was time to leave, the Master took both the president's hands in His and said:
I am very pleased with you and delighted to see your university. You are, indeed, serving the world of humanity and expending your life for mankind. Above all, I wish for you the blessings of the Kingdom and desire that you will be a cause of the spread of sciences and arts. I will pray on your behalf that God may make you a standard of guidance and that the love of God may shine upon your heart. I have seen a great love and affection in you, as well as in the professors and scholars. I shall never forget this meeting, and I shall always remember and mention your services.
Later He returned to Boston in the automobile especially provided for Him by the chancellor. The Master went directly to the home of Mrs Alice Breed. As that evening was the commemoration of the Declaration of the Báb as well as the birthday of `Abdu'l-Bahá,112
the Bahá'ís, with the utmost happiness and joy, had arranged a magnificent feast. When `Abdu'l-Bahá arrived, He rested for awhile and then joined the gathering of the friends, illuminating the meeting with His presence. With joyful and shining faces, all eyes were directed towards the Master. The freshness and verdure of that gathering was like a flower garden and was proof that the Tree of the Cause of God has been firmly rooted in American soil and that it has produced leaves and blossoms of the utmost beauty.
The Master spoke briefly about the greenery of the surrounding countryside, the magnificence of the city of Boston, as well as the university. He then gave an account of the life of the Báb that gladdened the hearts and cheered the souls.
Tea, drinks and sweets were served in another room. Mrs Breed brought before the Master a birthday cake with 68 candles, representing His age. At her request, He lit the first candle and then each of the friends in turn lit a candle, each person like a moth burning with the fire of love. When the cake was cut, each guest took a slice as a sacred relic. Mrs Breed, indeed, lit the candle of servitude and steadfastness that evening and, in doing so, became the recipient of bounty from `Abdu'l-Bahá's presence.113
Friday, May 24, 1912
[Boston -- Brookline -- Boston]
Both believers and non-Bahá'ís came in groups to visit the Master. Among them were journalists who asked various questions and received specific answers from `Abdu'l-Bahá. The Master had been invited to a conference sponsored by the Free Religious Association.114
He quickly left for the meeting at Ford Hall. More than a thousand people were in the audience. The subject of His talk was the unity of the teachings of the Messengers of God and the oneness of religions.
Because another lecturer had spoken just before the Master criticizing religion, `Abdu'l-Bahá's talk seemed extraordinary and produced a great effect. The former speaker, a zealous minister, had announced that a false Christ, a denier of Christ, had come to America. But when the people heard the Master's address establishing the truth of all the Prophets and especially that of Christ, they were surprised, astonished and extremely interested. Moreover, the dignity of `Abdu'l-Bahá as He left the meeting became a further cause of attracting the hearts. The members of the association, as well as the Association of Unitarians, had offered to pay the expenses of the Master's journey but the offer was not accepted.
At the end of the conference, the chairman held the Master's hand while the audience applauded. He expressed his gratitude and appreciation to the Master. As `Abdu'l-Bahá left the hall He bestowed His favors upon all.
From that conference `Abdu'l-Bahá went to Brookline, at the request of Mrs White, Mrs Jackson's sister. A banquet was held in a magnificent palace surrounded by resplendent gardens, situated on the summit of a hill and overlooking a large lake, the beauty of which is beyond description. Here a great number of visitors came to see the Master. He was pleased with the meeting and the surroundings. After a delightful talk, attracting all to Him, He returned to Boston to accept a previous invitation. After an hour's journey in an automobile especially sent for Him, He arrived at the hotel [the Boston Hotel] for a brief rest. He then went to the meeting which was held at the home of Mrs Nichols, who had sent an automobile for Him. A group of learned and eminent philosophers was waiting for Abdu'l-Bahá to ask Him many important questions, the comprehensive answers to which impressed and satisfied all. The discussion lasted about two hours. Their hearts were transformed by His explanations about universal peace among nations, the equality of rights of men and women and the education of women. Then, after tea, punch and sweets, the meeting ended.
Saturday, May 25, 1912
Among the visitors this morning was a group of Unitarian ministers who asked many questions and who received important answers. They took their leave with great humility. Another clergyman, Rabbi Fletcher, remained for over an hour in the Master's presence, asking various questions and receiving answers. He was so grateful and enthralled that it is difficult to describe his attraction. Dr Jack, the editor of an important London journal, also came for an interview. With great fervor and interest, he wrote down the answers to his questions for his journal. Besides the visits of these interested people, the Bahá'ís, who were in spiritual ecstacy and excitement, continuously begged for admission to `Abdu'l-Bahá's presence.
At a meeting in the afternoon at the Master's residence with philosophers and learned men of Boston, one visitor asked about the immortality of the soul. In response, `Abdu'l-Bahá delivered a most unique discourse on the subject, which left everyone astonished. Those leaders of science and knowledge were captivated with the beauty of the Covenant. The talk was so impressive that the Master Himself remarked as He left the meeting: `Until now there has never been such a discourse about the immortality of the soul.' This was purely the result of His authority and power. He had had no intention of speaking on this subject but when He was questioned, He answered without hesitation.
After the meeting He went to a public park in Boston. Later that evening, in the Huntington Chambers, the Bahá'ís held a farewell gathering with over one thousand in attendance. The Master spoke on the signs of progress in the 20th century. He then chanted a prayer in such an imploring manner that tears sprang to all eyes. The meeting ended with the utmost beauty and dignity.115
Sunday, May 26, 1912
[Boston -- New York]
`Abdu'l-Bahá left Boston today but before leaving He attended a meeting of the Golden Circle [al-Halqatadh-Dhahabíyyah], the largest Syrian society in America. One of the learned men, Dr Georgi, introduced the Master and praised Him in the most beautiful words. Another gentleman, a poet of the Arabic language, read, with great reverence and respect, an ode he had written in praise of the Cause of God and the Master. Then `Abdu'l-Bahá rose and delivered a most eloquent address, which made the Syrians very happy. No one could have imagined that they would have been so attracted and moved to such a degree. When `Abdu'l-Bahá stepped from the pulpit, all rushed towards Him to shake His hand. An Arabic-speaking woman struggled out of the crowd with great difficulty and threw herself at His feet, saying, `I testify that in Thee is the spirit of God and the spirit of Christ.'
The meetings in Boston pleased the Master, especially the meeting with the Syrians, which He mentioned in particular, saying: `What a meeting it was! How the confirmations of the Blessed Beauty transformed the people!'
This was the last meeting in Boston. He left the hotel at noon, reaching New York by 6:00 p.m. Without any rest He went directly from Mr Kinney's home to the Mount Morris Baptist Church. Standing under the arch of the church and leaning exhausted against a pillar, He addressed the meeting. He spoke of baptism and of the capacity of the soul to receive the breaths of the Holy Spirit. At the close of His talk He chanted a prayer.116
That night all saw with their own eyes the spirituality and innocence of Christ and the influence of the Holy Spirit. Let no one think that these are mere words; rather they are the expressions and feelings of all those who witnessed this. My premise is this: that in all the gatherings in America, the non-Bahá'ís look upon `Abdu'l-Bahá as a Prophet of God. Even though they are not Bahá'ís, their manners and conversations with Him are the same as they might use for their own Prophet and leader. All who come into His presence are seen in this condition. They all refer to the Blessed Being as the Messenger of Peace and the Prophet of the East in their speeches and writings. Although there are a few narrow-minded clergy who burn with the fire of jealousy, a large number of just ministers in every city have accorded Him the utmost reverence. Among them is the translator of those who spoke in praise of the Master. Their words indicate the quality of the audience and societies addressed by `Abdu'l-Bahá and are a clear proof of the grandeur and power of the Greatest Branch.
Monday, May 27, 1912
More than a thousand people assembled at the Metropolitan Temple in the afternoon to hear the Master.117
Dr Hill, one of the ministers previously mentioned, stood and said:
We are honored at this occasion by the presence of a distinguished guest who is the representative of universal peace. His fame has spread throughout the East and the West. Humanity has reaped great benefits from His teachings. Such an august personage deserves a genuine and sincere reception. Past ages necessitated the formation of nations but the present time requires a unity among the existing nations. I am greatly honored to introduce you to the founder and promoter of this universal peace and harmony.
Mr Frederick Lynch, the author of the book International Peace and an active member of the peace movement, stood and said:
Since the arrival of `Abdu'l-Bahá in America, I have had the honor of hearing and meeting Him several times; I have read with great interest His speeches and addresses in the newspapers. My ardent wish is that I may see here, too, the great impact of His teachings and the influence of His manifest signs. I was present at the Peace Conference at Lake Mohonk and had the pleasure of listening to the most remarkable address given there. The principles of His teachings, as given in that address, are the oneness of humanity, universal peace and the unity of religions. All His talks vibrate with the spirit of these principles and their influence is felt by all. How I welcome this dear person, whose presence has inspired the minds and hearts of the Americans! He receives inspiration from the breaths of the Holy Spirit. His spirit is infinite, unlimited and eternal. I am delighted to have been invited to this great occasion and to have the opportunity publicly to express my heartfelt testimony.
`Abdu'l-Bahá then stood and spoke on the subject of the Fatherhood of God and the oneness of humanity. The greatest proof of the majesty and power of the Covenant of God was the talk given by Rabbi Silverman, which followed the Master's talk. Previously he had been opposed to the Cause and argued against it. But from the moment he came into the presence of the Master he was transformed and became entirely humble. Rabbi Silverman said:
We have seen today the light with our own eyes. We are accustomed to seeing the sun rise from the East so we no longer regard it as a miracle. Spiritual light, too, has always shone from the East upon the West. The world is in need of this light, and we, too, are in need of this life-giving light. The fountainhead of this light has today spoken to us. This great personage, with a pure heart and chaste spirit, has attracted the hearts of the Americans and has made them His captivating lovers. His love and teachings have made a great impression upon the hearts and minds. The outward forms of religions are like shells, while the teachings and love are like unto the kernel. We need the shell so that the kernel may be protected. O people, distinguish between the shell and the kernel, the reality and the form. As stated by this respected prophet, `We must not err in distinguishing the light from the lamp.118
Tuesday, May 28, 1912
At a gathering of Bahá'ís, the Master recounted His journey to Boston, speaking on the capacity of souls and the need for divine education. Friends and inquirers were also continuously coming and going to visit Him in His room. Today He moved from the house facing the Hudson River to Mrs Kinney's home. He had instructed us to rent a house for Him because the owner of the apartment hotel considered that the movement of so many diverse people was unusual and felt that the additional work and difficulty [for the staff] was too much. There had been so many people visiting from morning to night that the hotel management had been obliged to respond to incessant inquiries. However, when the staff saw the Master's great kindness as He left the hotel they became ashamed of their conduct and begged Him to stay longer, but He did not accept.
Wednesday, May 29, 1912119
A public meeting was held today by the Theosophical Society where `Abdu'l-Bahá spoke on matters relating to the spirit and its passage through the world of existence.120
The effect of His address was such that the president of the society said, in the presence of `Abdu'l-Bahá, that his greatest desire was to bring about a perfect harmony between the Bahá'ís and the Theosophists. The happiness of Master increased day by day through influence of the Cause of God. Whenever He was asked about His health, He said with the utmost happiness, `My health and happiness depend on the progress of the Cause of God. Nothing else merits attention. This happiness is eternal, and this life is life everlasting.'
Thursday, May 30, 1912
After meeting with some of the friends and a few seekers, the Master went to a hall at the University of New York and gave an address on scientific questions and divine philosophy. His talk influenced many prominent people, all of whom were deeply moved and fascinated. Seeing the influence of the Cause in these sorts of large gatherings, the Bahá'ís offered thanks and gratitude for the confirmations of the Abhá Kingdom.
During this time the Master occupied Himself by writing Tablets in response to questions from both the Eastern and the Western friends. Today He gave an account of the lives of Varqá and Rúhu'lláh. He showed His great kindness to the sons of this martyr in the path of God, Mírzá Azíz'u'lláh Khán and Mírzá Valíyu'lláh Khán. The Master then told the friends about some of the precepts of the Cause. During these discourses, He said often:
I am the interpreter of the Writings of the Blessed Beauty, as explicitly designated by the Supreme Pen. All must obey. All matters pertaining to the Faith must be referred to the authorized interpreter. In the future all must turn to the divine House of Justice.
Friday, May 31, 1912
At the request of Mr [William H.] Hoar, the Master visited a sanatorium,121
visiting with the friends and holding two meetings, one in the morning and the other in the afternoon. In both meetings He proclaimed the Word of God and spoke of the teachings of the Blessed Beauty.122
Many were attracted to the Divine Voice. As the village of Fanwood is a summer resort and its fields and countryside very green and refreshing, it was very much enjoyed by the Master. But when they pleaded with Him to prolong His stay for a few days, because of the excessive heat and soot in New York, He said: `We have no time for amusement and fresh air. We must engage ourselves in service to the Threshold of Oneness.' The services and devotion of Mr Hoar and his family were much appreciated by the Master and were spoken of frequently at the Holy Threshold.