All posts by bahmauritius

“Know thou that when the Son of Man …”

Know thou that when the Son of Man yielded up His breath to God, the whole creation wept with a great weeping.

By sacrificing Himself, however, a fresh capacity was infused into all created things. Its evidences, as witnessed in all the peoples of the earth, are now manifest before thee.

The deepest wisdom which the sages have uttered, the profoundest learning which any mind hath unfolded, the arts which the ablest hands have produced, the influence exerted by the most potent of rulers, are but manifestations of the quickening power released by His transcendent, His all-pervasive, and resplendent Spirit.

We testify that when He came into the world, He shed the splendor of His glory upon all created things.

Through Him the leper recovered from the leprosy of perversity and ignorance.

Through Him, the unchaste and wayward were healed.

Through His power, born of Almighty God, the eyes of the blind were opened, and the soul of the sinner sanctified.

Leprosy may be interpreted as any veil that interveneth between man and the recognition of the Lord, his God.

Whoso alloweth himself to be shut out from Him is indeed a leper, who shall not be remembered in the Kingdom of God, the Mighty, the All-Praised.

We bear witness that through the power of the Word of God every leper was cleansed, every sickness was healed, every human infirmity was banished.

He it is Who purified the world.

Blessed is the man who, with a face beaming with light, hath turned towards Him.

Gleanings From the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh – 26

“Sache que, lorsque le Fils de l’homme rendit son âme à Dieu …”

Sache que, lorsque le Fils de l’homme rendit son âme à Dieu, toute la création fut secouée d’un long sanglot.

Mais il avait, en se sacrifiant, insufflé dans toutes choses créées une capacité nouvelle.

Les preuves qu’ont eues de lui tous les peuples de la terre sont aujourd’hui manifestes devant toi.

La plus profonde sagesse qu’aient exprimée les plus sages des hommes, les plus hautes connaissances qu’aient acquises les plus savants d’entre eux, les arts que les mains les plus habiles aient produits, l’influence qu’ont pu exercer les plus puissants monarques, ne sont que des manifestations du pouvoir vivifiant dégagé par son esprit transcendant, omnipénétrant et resplendissant.

Nous attestons que lorsqu’il vint au monde, il répandit sur toutes choses créées la splendeur de sa gloire.

Par lui, le lépreux guérit de la lèpre de l’ignorance et de la perversité. Par lui, le débauché et le pervers furent purifiés. Par le pouvoir qu’il tenait du Tout-Puissant, les yeux des aveugles s’ouvrirent à la lumière du jour et l’âme des pécheurs fut sanctifiée.

Peut être qualifié de lèpre tout voile qui s’interpose entre l’homme et la reconnaissance du Seigneur, son Dieu.

Et quiconque refuse délibérément à Dieu l’accès de son âme est un lépreux dont le souvenir ne sera point rappelé dans le royaume de Dieu le Tout-Puissant.

Nous attestons que, par le pouvoir du Verbe de Dieu, tout lépreux cessa d’être impur, toute maladie fut guérie et toute infirmité humaine abolie.

C’est lui qui effaça la souillure du monde.

Béni est l’homme qui se tourne vers lui avec un visage rayonnant de lumière !

Extraits des Ecrits de Baha’u’llah – 26

Displaying the Baha’i Faith: the pen is mightier than the sword

 

 

There’s a famous saying that ‘the pen is mightier than the sword’. In other words, ideas have a greater impact, when written down and read, than when they’re spread by force.

Those words were coined by the English author Edward Bulwer-Lytton in 1839. He was an exact contemporary of the Persian nobleman Bahá’u’lláh, Prophet-Founder of the Baha’i Faith, the bicentenary of whose birth is currently being celebrated around the world.

The importance of the written word for Bahá’u’lláh was established in the earliest moments of his religion. During his first spiritual revelation, he heard these words, ‘Verily, We shall render Thee victorious by Thyself and by Thy Pen.’ This was to be a message of peace offered, as a gift to people, only through words and the positive acts of those who believed them.

Here is one of the original pens used by Bahá’u’lláh.

It’s hard to imagine today, when we have the ability literally at our fingertips to share ideas in an instant across the planet, that it was through pens such as this that Bahá’u’lláh set out his vision for one, united human race, in more than 100 volumes of writings. Despite the limitations of the technology, Bahá’u’lláh’s teachings spread, giving rise to a community that now numbers in the millions, established in virtually every country on the planet.

The power of the ‘Word’ has been central to all the world’s great faiths. It has inspired human beings to discover their noblest qualities and create new patterns of life, giving rise to great civilisations. In the case of older religions, it was the spoken sayings of their founders that were heard and passed down by others, captured in texts that have become sacred scripture. For Muslims, the Qur’an was verbally revealed to the Prophet Muhammad. The revelation that Bahá’u’lláh received, for some 40 years, was immediately written down, authenticated by him, and shared far and wide. For all of that time, because of his teachings, Bahá’u’lláh endured torture, imprisonment and a series of exiles from his homeland.

Revelation writing

Eyewitnesses left accounts of the extraordinary manner by which Bahá’u’lláh’s writings came into being. Firstly, his secretary, Mírzá Áqá Ján, would have ready a number of reed pens – also on display in the bicentenary display – and stacks of large sheets of paper.

The verses would then seem to flow from Bahá’u’lláh, who spoke rapidly or chanted them aloud. Such was the speed with which his verses had to be captured on the paper that they were only readable by the scribe himself. Seeing this page of ‘revelation writing’ by Mírzá Áqá Ján, it looks almost like a sketch by a 20th-century Abstract Expressionist artist. But these are Bahá’u’lláh’s words, hurriedly captured by his scribe.

Later, Mírzá Áqá Ján would copy out his marks in legible handwriting. Sometimes he could not even read his own writing and he had to ask Bahá’u’lláh to help him decipher what was dictated. Then Bahá’u’lláh would give his seal of approval to the clean copy.

Other followers would then take this version, and write it out again, sometimes bind the verses into books like this one, so they could be transported and shared with people throughout the Middle East, and even as far afield as India, Burma (Myanmar) or China.

The Hidden Words

Bahá’u’lláh himself was also a skilled calligrapher, often transcribing his writings in his own beautiful handwriting that was later illuminated on the page.

Two beautiful examples are also on display of Bahá’u’lláh’s best-known and well-loved collection of writings, The Hidden Words, verses that present the ethical heart of his message and distil the spiritual guidance of all religions of the past. Among the principles conveyed in this example is the teaching of the oneness and the equality of the human race: ‘O Children of Men!’ he writes, ‘Know ye not why We created you all from the same dust? That no one should exalt himself over the other.’

Imagine if the handwriting of Jesus Christ were to be discovered, how extraordinary it would be for a Christian today to be able to actually see it! For members of the Baha’i Faith like myself, it’s a very special privilege to be able to experience alongside others, the original handwriting of Bahá’u’lláh. Usually such items are only on display for pilgrims who have made a special visit to see them in the Holy Land. Most of the pieces in the display have been lent specifically from the International Baha’i Archives in Haifa, part of modern-day Israel, close to where Bahá’u’lláh passed away in 1892. The house where he lived for the final years of his life, outside the former Ottoman prison city of Akka, is where a professor from the University of Cambridge, Edward G Browne (1862–1926), went to visit him in 1890.

An English professor meets Bahá’u’lláh

Browne was fascinated by the evolution and rise of the Baha’i religion in his own time. In a unique pen-portrait, he left this description of Bahá’u’lláh:

The face of Him on Whom I gazed I can never forget, though I cannot describe it. Those piercing eyes seemed to read one’s very soul; power and authority sat on that ample brow… No need to ask in whose presence I stood, as I bowed myself before one who is the object of a devotion and love which kings might envy and emperors sigh for in vain.

During those meetings, Bahá’u’lláh expressed to Browne the hope that:

all nations should become one in faith and all men as brothers; that the bonds of affection and unity between the sons of men should be strengthened; that diversity of religion should cease, and differences of race be annulled… Let not a man glory in this, that he loves his country; let him rather glory in this, that he loves his kind.

A year later, Bahá’u’lláh sent Browne a pair of reading glasses, originally a gift from a follower in Hong Kong. With them Bahá’u’lláh enclosed a message:

We should like to send them to our true friend. Though by God’s grace, he is endowed with outward and inward vision and has no need of them yet the object in view is a mention of us with him.

These glasses are also a rare and fascinating item in the display.

Today several million Baha’is around the world are working with their friends and neighbours for the spiritual and material prosperity of their communities. But, as this display reminds us, it all started with the markings of a pen on paper.

You can see the display The birth of Bahá’u’lláh: a bicentenary celebration of the Bahá’í Faith’s founder in Room 34 from 7 November 2017 until 22 January 2018

 

A True Bahá’í

A student of the modern methods of the higher criticism asked ‘Abdu’l-Bahá if he would do well to continue in the church with which he had been associated all his life, and whose language was full of meaning to him. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá answered: “You must not dissociate yourself from it. Know this; 98 the Kingdom of God is not in any Society; some seekers go through many Societies as a traveller goes through many cities till he reach his destination. If you belong to a Society already do not forsake your brothers.

You can be a Bahá’í-Christian, a Bahá’í-Freemason, a Bahá’í-Jew, a Bahá’í-Muḥammadán. The number nine contains eight, and seven, and all the other numbers, and does not deny any of them. Do not distress or deny anyone by saying ‘He is not a Bahá’í!’ He will be known by his deeds. There are no secrets among Bahá’ís; a Bahá’í does not hide anything.”

‘Abdu’l-Bahá in London

The True Bahá’í

“I have never heard of Bahá’u’lláh,” said a young man. I have only recently read about this movement, but I recognize the mission of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and desire to be a disciple. I have always believed in the brotherhood of man as the ultimate solvent of all our national and international difficulties.”

“It makes no difference whether you have ever heard of Bahá’u’lláh or not,” was the answer, “the man who lives the life according to the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh is already a Bahá’í. On the other hand a man may call himself a Bahá’í for fifty years and if he does not live the life he is not a Bahá’í. An ugly man may call himself handsome, but he deceives no one, and a black man may call himself white yet he deceives no one: not even himself!”

‘Abdu’l-Bahá in London

LE VRAI BAHA’I

‘Je n’ai jamais entendu parler de Baha’u’llah’, dit un jeune homme. ‘Je n’ai que récemment lu sur ce mouvement, mais je reconnais la mission de ‘Abdu’l-Baha et je désire être un disciple. J’ai toujours cru que la fraternité humaine était l’ultime solution de toutes nos difficultés nationales et internationales’.

“Cela ne fait aucune différence que vous ayez ou non entendu parler de Baha’u’llah”, répondit ‘Abdu’l-Baha, “l’homme qui vit la vie en accord avec les enseignements de Baha’u’llah est déjà un baha’i. D’un autre côté un homme peut se dire baha’i pendant cinquante ans, s’il ne vit pas la vie baha’ie il n’est pas un baha’i. Un homme laid peut se dire beau, mais il ne trompe personne, et un homme noir peut se dire blanc, là encore il ne trompe personne: même pas lui-même!”

Abdu’l-Baha à Londres

Le Coeur Pur

Quand on Lui demanda une définition d’un coeur pur, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá dit: “Le coeur pur est celui qui est entièrement coupé du moi. Etre altruiste c’est être pur”.

(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá à Londres, Chapitre 2.46)

 

Il est facile de lire les saintes Ecritures, mais c’est uniquement avec un coeur pur et un esprit clair qu’on peut comprendre leur véritable signification. Demandons l’aide de Dieu afin d’être capables de comprendre les livres saints.

Prions pour que les yeux voient, pour que les oreilles entendent, et pour les coeurs qui désirent ardemment la paix.

La grâce éternelle de Dieu est incommensurable. De tout temps, Il a choisi certaines âmes sur lesquelles Il a répandu la divine bonté de son coeur, illuminant leur esprit de lumière céleste, leur révélant les mystères sacrés, et présentant à leurs yeux, dans toute sa pureté, le miroir de Vérité. Ce sont les disciples de Dieu, et sa bonté n’a pas de limites.

Vous qui êtes les serviteurs du Très-Haut, vous pouvez aussi être des disciples. Les trésors de Dieu sont infinis. L’esprit qui souffle à travers les saintes Ecritures est une nourriture pour tous ceux qui ont faim.

Dieu, qui s’est révélé aux prophètes, donnera sûrement le pain quotidien ainsi qu’une part de ses richesses à tous ceux qui le lui demanderont avec constance.

Abdu’l-Bahá, Les Causeries d’’Abdu’l-Bahá à Paris, Chapitre: I

Attachez-vous plutôt à rechercher des coeurs qui soient purs

Ne vous arrêtez pas à considérer votre petit nombre, mais attachez-vous plutôt à rechercher des coeurs qui soient purs. Une seule âme consacrée es: préférable à des milliers d’autres.
Si un petit nombre de personnes se rassemblent avec amour, dans un esprit de pureté et de sainteté absolues, le coeur détaché du monde, éprouvant les émotions du royaume ainsi que les puissantes forces magnétiques du Divin, et unies dans leur heureuse fraternité, un tel rassemblement exercera son influence sur toute la terre.
La nature de ce groupe de personnes, les mots qu’elles prononcent, les actes qu’elles exécutent, contribueront à libérer les célestes bienfaits, à faire sentir les prémisses de la béatitude éternelle. Les armées de l’assemblée divine les défendront et les anges du paradis d’Abha, tour à tour, se porteront à leur secours.
Les confirmations de Dieu et de ses célestes pouvoirs, voilà le sens du mot “anges”. De même les anges sont des êtres bénis qui ont rompu leurs liens avec ce monde inférieur, se sont dégagés de la chaîne du moi et des désirs charnels, et ont ancré leurs coeurs dans les célestes royaumes du Seigneur.
Ils appartiennent au Royaume, ils sont célestes; ils appartiennent à Dieu, ils sont spirituels; ils sont les révélateurs de la munificente grâce divine, les aurores de ses bienfaits spirituels.
Ö servante de Dieu! Loué soit Dieu, ton époux affectionné a perçu le doux parfum des brises odorantes qui émanent des jardins célestes. Tu dois maintenant, jour après jour, par l’amour de Dieu et par tes bonnes actions, l’attirer toujours plus près de la Foi.

‘’Abdu’l-Bahá, Selection des Écrits d’’Abdu’l-Bahá, Chapitre: #8

OTTILIE RHEIN

OTTILIE RHEIN

1903-1979

Knight of Bahá’u’lláh

published in Bahá’í World, Vol. 18 (1979-1983), pages 610-825

Haifa, Israel: Baha’i World Centre, 1986

Ottilie Rhein, named by the beloved Guardian a Knight of Bahá’u’lláh for having pioneered to the Island of Mauritius in 1953,1 passed on to the Abhá Kingdom on 29 October 1979 in San Mateo, California. She was laid to rest in the beautiful hills overlooking an expanse of the great Pacific Ocean.

Oceans were not a barrier to Ottilie’s adventuresome spirit. She was to cross and recross the Atlantic, the Pacific and the Indian Oceans by both sea and air. She set goals for herself and went about accomplishing them regardless of the perils she might face. As a young girl she left her native Germany to seek adventure in the United States where she settled in Chicago and managed a building in which she rented rooms. One of her tenants, Betty Powers, had in her room a photograph of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá which aroused Ottilie’s passing interest — she thought Him a Holy Man — but through changing her job Ottilie lost contact with the Bahá’ís until 1941 when the distress and loneliness occasioned by World War II caused her to be drawn irresistibly to the Bahá’í Temple.

After attending meetings conducted by Melvin Newport and Albert Windust, Ottilie gave her heart and life to Bahá’u’lláh. ‘The Guardian will pray that, in the days to come, you may render the Faith many lasting and noteworthy services,’ Shoghi Effendi’s secretary wrote to her on his behalf on 10 December 1942. Almost immediately Ottilie arose to pioneer in Arizona to fill a goal of the Seven Year Plan in that State. From here she moved to San Mateo, California, where her dear Bahá’í friend, Mrs. Lisette Berger, made her welcome. San Mateo became the base to which she would return from her various international pioneering posts when necessity dictated. As a naturalized citizen of the United States she could not be away from the country for more than five years without losing her citizenship.

Ottilie was present at the International Conference in Chicago in 1953 when the beloved Guardian launched the Ten Year Crusade. All hearts were touched and a flood of volunteers arose in response to the call for pioneers. But Ottilie was always a person of action and she was one of the first to put her affairs in order and leave. She stored some of her belongings with Mrs. Berger and departed

1 Shoghi Effendi, Messages to the Bahá’í World, p. 57.

with only minimal luggage. She had thought of joining Rex and Mary Collison in Uganda but the Guardian had specified the settlement of virgin areas so she determined to go to Mauritius, an island mentioned by name in ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s Tablets of the Divine Plan and one ‘whose name was enshrined in Bahá’í history during the Heroic Age … as the source, two years before ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s arrival in America, of a contribution towards the purchase of the site of the Mother Temple of the West’.1 She poured over maps, atlases and encyclopedias but could discover very little about the island except that it had a mixed population, that sugar cane was the chief crop raised and that French and English were spoken. But that was enough for her, and excitedly she boarded a ship at Mombasa after having visited Kenya, Uganda and Tanganyika (now Tanzania). She arrived in a heavy downpour on 11 November 1953. Shoghi Effendi’s cable — ASSURE RHEIN LOVING APPRECIATION — was relayed to her on 4 December by Paul E. Haney, then chairman of the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States.

Ottilie’s utter trust in Bahá’u’lláh enabled her to overcome the difficulties she encountered. She rejoiced at obtaining a visa which was good for six months and which later was extended to three years plus three months. With the assistance of a German missionary she found a house which offered the barest necessities but which provided a setting for Bahá’í meetings. Her first shopping expedition, occasioned by the urgent need to acquire mosquito netting, led her to a shop whose proprietor, Mr. Him Lim, a Chinese, became the first resident of Mauritius to accept the Faith. When she had enrolled two Bahá’ís and had interested a number of inquirers, Mr. Jalál Nakhjavání,2 and later another Persian believer, visited the island and assisted with the teaching work. By 1956, just before her visa expired, there were forty Bahá’ís, enough to form three Local Spiritual Assemblies. Although some vacillated at the last moment, Ottilie was determined not to be deprived of victory.

By sheer determination she confirmed some new believers and induced others to change residence with the result that there were established — as she later recorded — ‘three Local Spiritual Assemblies for the three years of teaching’. A strong and self-reliant foundation had been laid. This victory made it possible for Mauritius to send a delegate to the historic first Regional Convention convened at the farm of Mr. and Mrs. William Sears, near Johannesburg, South Africa, at Ridván 156. But Ottilie’s service in Mauritius was at an end. Her request for an extension of her visa was refused although she called upon the Governor who listened sympathetically to her appeal and was attentive to her explanation of the Faith. This same gentleman — Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam — later became Prime Minister and addressed the Bahá’í Oceanic Conference held in Mauritius in August 1970. Ottilie had the bounty of attending that gathering and of receiving his smile of recognition.

After leaving Mauritius she remained in Kampala for a time lending much needed assistance in the production of Bahá’í literature until it became necessary for her to return to the United States to safeguard her citizenship. But her restless spirit could not be idle

1 The Universal House of Justice, The Bahá’í World, vol. XV, p. 299.

2 See ‘In Memoriam’, p. 797.

when the Faith needed pioneers. By 1959 she had saved enough money to make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land and then settle in Chile where, by living frugally, she was able to remain from 1960 until 1963. Chile was her last international venture, but in her home community of San Mateo she could always be depended upon to contribute her share to every activity. One of her greatest joys was to keep in touch with her Bahá’í friends throughout the world.

On 27 December 1978 the secretary of the National Spiritual Assembly of Mauritius wrote to Ottilie Rhein, addressing her as ‘Spiritual Mother of Mauritius’, and conveying ‘deep love and gratitude on the occasion of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the establishment of the Faith in Mauritius … It is highly significant that God’s Message for this day was planted in this island by a lady. We turn our hearts in thanksgiving to Bahá’u’lláh that you were chosen for this and we pray to Him that He may shower all His blessings on you and bring you eternal joy and happiness. Present generations may not be aware of the import of such a feat by you, but your name will forever be associated with the Faith in Mauritius and future generations will befittingly mark the event of your first coming to Mauritius. It may not be without meaning that when you landed in Mauritius on that morning of Sunday, the 11th November 1953, it was raining heavily — the happy presage of a bountiful harvest … ‘

And again, on 21 February 1979, ‘We were deeply touched to read the copy of the letter the Universal House of Justice addressed to you on the 29th November 1978 and appreciate your kind thoughts for Mauritius. It is incredible that a quarter of a century has elapsed since you arrived in Mauritius. The seed you planted has grown and it has no doubt been sustained by your love, devotion and sincerity in the Cause of God … We have now seventy-four Local Spiritual Assemblies … ‘

Ottilie remained in spirit a true pioneer right to the end. In her life she manifested the seven qualifications of the divinely enlightened soul mentioned by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in one of His Tablets: knowledge of God, faith, steadfastness, truthfulness, uprightness, fidelity and evanescence or humility. She was honoured at the time of her passing with the following cable from the Universal House of Justice:

SADDENED LEARN PASSING OTTILIE RHEIN DEVOTED MAIDSERVANT BLESSED BEAUTY KNIGHT BAHAULLAH MAURITIUS STEADFAST PERSEVERING IN PIONEER POSTS MANY YEARS UNDER DIFFICULT CONDITIONS. OFFERING LOVING PRAYERS SACRED THRESHOLD PROGRESS HER VALIANT SOUL ABHA KINGDOM. KINDLY CONVEY CONDOLENCES HER FAMILY OUR BEHALF. (Adapted from a memoir by VALERA F. ALLEN)

The Duty of Kindness and Sympathy towards Strangers and Foreigners

When a man turns his face to God he finds sunshine everywhere. All men are his brothers. Let not conventionality cause you to seem cold and unsympathetic when you meet strange people from other countries. Do not look at them as though you suspected them of being evildoers, thieves and boors. You think it necessary to be very careful, not to expose yourselves to the risk of making acquaintance with such, possibly, undesirable people.

I ask you not to think only of yourselves. Be kind to the strangers, whether come they from Turkey, Japan, Persia, Russia, China or any other country in the world.

Help to make them feel at home; find out where they are staying, ask if you may render them any service; try to make their lives a little happier.

In this way, even if, sometimes, what you at first suspected should be true, still go out of your way to be kind to them—this kindness will help them to become better.

After all, why should any foreign people be treated as strangers?
Let those who meet you know, without your proclaiming the fact, that you are indeed a Bahá’í. Put into practice the Teaching of Bahá’u’lláh, that of kindness to all nations. Do not be content

with showing friendship in words alone, let your heart burn with loving kindness for all who may cross your path.

Oh, you of the Western nations, be kind to those who come from the Eastern world to sojourn among you. Forget your conventionality when you speak with them; they are not accustomed to it. To Eastern peoples this demeanor seems cold, unfriendly. Rather let your manner be sympathetic. Let it be seen that you are filled with universal love. When you meet a Persian or any other stranger, speak to him as to a friend; if he seems to be lonely try to help him, give him of your

willing service; if he be sad console him, if poor succor him, if oppressed rescue him, if in misery comfort him. In so doing you will manifest that not in words only, but in deed and in truth, you think of all men as your brothers.

What profit is there in agreeing that universal friendship is good, and talking of the solidarity of the human race as a grand ideal? Unless these thoughts are translated into the world of action, they are useless.

The wrong in the world continues to exist just because people talk only of their ideals, and do not strive to put them into practice. If actions took the place of words, the world’s misery would very soon be changed into comfort.

A man who does great good, and talks not of it, is on the way to perfection.
The man who has accomplished a small good and magnifies it in his speech is worth very little.
If I love you, I need not continually speak of my love—you will know without any words. On the

other hand if I love you not, that also will you know—and you would not believe me, were I to tell you in a thousand words, that I loved you.

People make much profession of goodness, multiplying fine words because they wish to be thought greater and better than their fellows, seeking fame in the eyes of the world. Those who do most good use fewest words concerning their actions.

The children of God do the works without boasting, obeying His laws.

My hope for you is that you will ever avoid tyranny and oppression; that you will work without ceasing till justice reigns in every land, that you will keep your hearts pure and your hands free from unrighteousness.

This is what the near approach to God requires from you, and this is what I expect of you.

 

Paris Talks
Addresses Given by ‘Abdu’l‐Bahá in 1911