Lesson 7

Contemplation:

That one indeed is a man who, today, dedicateth himself to the service of the entire human race. The Great Being saith: Blessed and happy is he that ariseth to promote the best interests of the peoples and kindreds [family, relatives] of the earth. In another passage He hath proclaimed: It is not for him to pride himself who loveth his own country, but rather for him who loveth the whole world. The earth is but one country, and mankind its citizens.

                                           -Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh. P. 250

Baha’u’llah 

Bahá’u’lláh was born on November 12, 1817 in Tehran, the capital of Persia, known today as Iran. His parents called him Husayn-‘Alí but he later came to be known as Bahá’u’lláh, which means “the Glory of God.” Like Buddha and Zoroaster, Bahá’u’lláh’s childhood was happy and comfortable. His family lived in a mansion with beautiful furniture and many fine things. Bahá’u’lláh’s father was a nobleman who was so respected for his wisdom, talents, generosity, and courage that the King gave him the title “Buzurg”, which means “the great one”, and made him a governor. From the time of his childhood, Bahá’u’lláh was different from other children. His mother used to say that her son never cried or made a fuss about anything. He was also very kind and generous. Like most other children of noble families, Bahá’u’lláh had a tutor at home for a while but he never attended any school. His vast, God-given knowledge amazed everyone who came into contact with him.

When Bahá’u’lláh was only five or six, Bahá’u’lláh had a strange dream that he was in a garden where huge birds were flying over his head and attacking him. But they could not harm him in any way. Then he went on to take a bath in the sea and again, he was attacked, but this time by fish. Like the birds, the fish also could not harm him. Bahá’u’lláh shared this dream with his father, who asked a wise man to interpret the dream. The wise man predicted that this boy was going to be a great person. He said that the sea in the dream was this world and the huge birds and fish were the peoples of the world who would attack his son in the future. This was because Bahá’u’lláh was going to speak of something that was very important and had to do with the minds of people. But they would not be able to harm him, and he would live to achieve a great task (From the Story of the Prophets, pp. 38-39).

Questions:

  1. When and where was Baha’u’llah born?
  1. What was his real name?
  1. What is the meaning of the word Bahá’u’lláh?
  1. How was Bahá’u’lláh’s childhood?
  1. Describe Bahá’u’lláh’s father.
  1. Why did the king of Iran give Bahá’u’lláh’s father the title “Buzurg”? What kind of job did the king give him?
  1. Did Bahá’u’lláh ever attend a school?
  1. What was Bahá’u’lláh’s dream? What was the meaning of that dream?

Spiritual Teachings of Baha’u’llah

Life After Death

We have two sides: a physical part and a spiritual part. The physical part dies. The spiritual part lives on and continues its journey toward God. The spiritual part never dies. It is called the soul. The soul is like a bird and the body is like a cage. At death, the cage is broken and the bird flies toward God. Baha’u’llah said:

“I have made death a messenger of joy to thee. Why dost thou grieve?”

We are sad for our separation, but joyful for the progress of the departed. Death is only the beginning of the next journey of the soul (The Garden of Baha’u’llah, p. 78)

Winning Hearts in Akka A Story about ‘Abdu’l-Baha  

Over a century ago, there was an empire called the Ottoman Empire. It was huge. It included countries that today we call Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Jordan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and much more. The Ottoman Empire had grown old and corrupt. Many things that happened there were cruel and unfair. If the leaders thought you had done wrong, but didn’t know what to do with you, they would send you to the city of Akka in Palestine. The whole of Akka had been turned into a prison. It was called a prison city. Akka was also very old and dirty. People used to say that if a bird flew over Akka, it would drop dead from the bad air. In 1868, this is where they sent ‘Abdu’l-Baha along with His father, Baha’u’llah, all his family and some friends. The people of Akka had been told that they were enemies of God, of religion and of the empire. Of course this was not true. But the orders were that no one could see them. They would be prisoners until they died. But these prisoners behaved so well and were so wise, that after two years the captain of the prison finally let them stay in a house inside Akka, rather than the jail. ‘Abdu’l-Baha would go out to buy food, clothes and supplies for the rest.

It is very hard to live in a town where everyone thinks you are an enemy of God, religion and your country. So many people disliked ‘Abdu’l-Baha, and treated him badly. But ‘Abdu’l-Baha was never afraid or discouraged by all of this. Instead, when they treated him badly, he showed them kindness. Though poor and a prisoner himself, he helped the poor and others, whenever he could. If talking would not help, he remained silent and patient; if people would listen, he spoke the truth. One day in Akka, he came to a street where many people were gathered together. They were listening to an argument between a Christian and a Muslim, about which religion was the true one. The Christian seemed to be winning, and the people were starting to worry, because most of them were Muslim and followed the teachings of Muhammad. ‘Abdu’l-Baha listened for a while, and then he spoke up. While respecting the truth of Jesus, He explained the teachings of Islam so well to the Christian, that the man changed his mind and accepted its wisdom. That day many people came to admire ‘Abdu’l-Baha. “Even if he is not a Muslim,” some thought, “such a man cannot be the enemy of God or of religion.”

Each day, no matter what happened, ‘Abdu’l-Baha continued to act kindly and to speak the truth wisely. It took a long time, but gradually the people on their own, changed their minds about Baha’u’llah and his wonderful son, their family and friends. Nine years after arriving as prisoners, they were allowed to live freely in the area. Eventually, governors and judges, rich and poor, everyone grew to love and admire ‘Abdu’l-Baha and to seek his advice and help (Taken from Varqa international Children’s Magazine, Aug-Sep. 2005 issue).

Questions

  1. How was the city of Akka at the time of Baha’u’llah?
  1. Why did the people of Akka dislike Baha’u’llah and His family?
  1. How did ‘Abdu’l-Baha treat the people of Akka?

A Story of Sacrifice:

Across the Atlantic, in England, a young Baha’i, Norah Crossley, heard of the Temple being built in America. She, too, had no money to give but longed to have a share in the construction of that House of Worship; so she gave her most precious possession—her long, beautiful hair. She cut it and sent it to be sold for the Temple with a letter to Dr. Esslemont in which she wrote: “You may think mine a very strange share, but I am very poor and cannot afford to send money, so I have cut off my hair — It has been a sacrifice I admit, for it was the only beauty I possessed, but it is nothing compared with what the Master has given me. ..I will even give my life, if need be…”

This letter was sent to Abdu’l-Baha, Who wrote to her: “O my well-beloved daughter of the Kingdom! The letter thou hadst written to Dr. Esslemont was forwarded by him to the Land of Desire [The Holy Land]. I read it all through with the greatest attention. On the one hand, I was deeply touched, for thou hadst sheared off those fair tresses [a long lock of a woman’s hair] of thine with the shears of detachment from this world and of self-sacrifice in the path of the Kingdom of God. And on the other, I was greatly pleased, for that dearly-beloved daughter hath evinced so great a spirit of self-sacrifice as to offer up so precious a part of her body in the pathway of the Cause of God. Hadst thou sought my opinion, I would in no wise have consented that thou shouldst shear off even a single thread of thy comely and wavy locks; nay, I myself would have contributed in thy name for the Mashriqu’1-Adhkar. This deed of thine is, however, an eloquent testimony to thy noble spirit of self-sacrifice. Thou hast, verily, sacrificed thy life and great will be the spiritual results thou shalt obtain. Rest thou confident that day by day thou shalt progress and wax greater in firmness and in constancy. The bounties of Baha’u’llah shall compass thee about and the joyful tidings from on high shall time and again be imparted unto thee. And though it be thine hair that thou hast sacrificed, yet thou shalt be filled with the Spirit, and though it be this perishable member of thy body which thou hast laid down in the path of God, yet thou shalt find the Divine Gift, shalt behold the Celestial Beauty, obtain imperishable glory and attain unto everlasting life.

Virtue of the week: 

Generosity

 O ye rich ones on earth! The poor in your midst are My trust; guard ye My trust, and be not intent only on your own ease.    – The Hidden Words of Baha’u’llah. #54

To give and to be generous are attributes of Mine; well is it with him that adorneth himself with My virtues.                                                                  Bahá’u’lláh

He who has two coats, let him share with him who has none; and he who has food, let him do likewise.                                                                -Bible. Luke 3: 11

A gift is pure when it is given from the heart to the right person at the right time and at the right place, and when we expect nothing in return. – The Bhagavad Gita, 17:20

Noble men find joy in generosity, and this gives them joy in higher worlds.  – Buddhism. Dhammapada 13:177

Questions

  1. Is generosity only giving money away?
  1. How do you feel when you receive an unexpected gift?
  1. How do you feel when you give someone a gift?
  1. Why is it important for us to be generous to other people?
  1. Whom should we be generous towards?

 

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