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made him a Luminous Book unto those who believed and surrendered themselves; caused him to witness the creation of all things (Kullu Shay') in this black and ruinous age, and to speak forth from the apex of eternity with a wondrous voice in the Excellent Temple [The Manifestation.]: to the end that every man may testify,
in himself, by himself, in the
station of the Manifestation of his Lord, that verily there is no God save Him, and that
every man may thereby win his way to the summit of realities, until none shall contemplate
anything whatsoever but that he shall see God therein.
And I praise and glorify the first sea which hath branched from the ocean of the Divine Essence, and the first morn which hath glowed from the Horizon of Oneness,
and the first sun which hath risen
in the Heaven of Eternity, and the first fire
which was lit from the Lamp of Preexistence in the lantern of singleness: He who was Ahmad in the kingdom of the exalted ones,
and Muhammad amongst the concourse of the near ones, and Mahmúd [Muhammad, Ahmad and Mahmúd are names and titles of the Prophet, derived from the verb "to praise," "to exalt."] in the realm of the sincere ones. "
...by whichsoever (name) ye will,
invoke Him: He hath most excellent names" [Qur'án 17:110.] in the hearts of those
who know. And upon His household and companions be abundant and abiding and eternal peace!
Further, we have harkened to what the nightingale of knowledge sang on the boughs of the tree of thy being,
and learned what the dove of certitude cried on the branches of the bower of thy heart. Methinks I verily inhaled the pure fragrances of the garment of thy love, and attained thy very meeting from perusing thy letter.
And since I noted thy mention of
thy death in God, and thy life through Him, and thy
love for the beloved of God and the Manifestations of His Names and the Dawning-Points of His Attributes--I therefore reveal unto thee sacred and resplendent tokens from the planes of glory,
to attract thee into the court of
holiness and nearness and beauty, and draw thee to a station wherein thou shalt see
nothing in creation save the Face of thy Beloved One, the Honored, and behold all created
things only as in the day wherein none hath a mention.
Of this hath the nightingale of oneness sung in the garden of Ghawthíyyih. [Sermon by `Alí.] He saith:
"And there shall appear upon the tablet of thine heart a writing of the subtle mysteries of `Fear God and God will give you knowledge'; [Qur'án 2:282.]
and the bird of thy soul shall
recall the holy sanctuaries of preexistence and soar on the wings of longing in the heaven
of `walk the beaten paths of thy Lord', [Qur'án
and gather the fruits of communion
in the gardens of `Then feed on every kind of fruit.'" [Qur'án 16:71.]
By My life, O friend, wert thou to taste of these fruits, from the green garden of these blossoms which grow in the lands of knowledge, beside the orient lights of the Essence in the mirrors of names and attributes--yearning would seize the reins of patience and reserve from out thy hand, and make thy soul to shake with the flashing light,
and draw thee from the earthly
homeland to the first, heavenly abode in the Center of
Realities, and lift thee to a plane wherein thou wouldst soar in the air even as thou walkest upon the earth, and move over the water as thou runnest on the land.
Wherefore, may it rejoice Me, and
thee, and whosoever mounteth into the heaven of knowledge, and whose heart is refreshed by
this, that the wind of certitude hath blown over the garden of his being, from the Sheba
of the All-Merciful.
Peace be upon him who followeth the Right Path!
And further: The stages that mark the wayfarer's journey from the abode of dust to the heavenly homeland are said to be seven. Some have called these Seven Valleys, and others, Seven Cities.
And they say that until the
wayfarer taketh leave of self, and traverseth these stages, he shall never reach to the
ocean of nearness and union, nor drink of the peerless wine.
The first is
THE VALLEY OF SEARCH
The steed of this Valley is patience; without patience the wayfarer on this journey will reach nowhere and attain no goal.
Nor should he ever be downhearted; if he strive for a hundred thousand years and yet fail to behold the beauty of the Friend, he should not falter. For those who seek the Ka'bih [The holy Sanctuary at Mecca.
Here the word means "goal."] of "for Us" rejoice in the tidings: "In Our ways will We guide them." [Qur'án 29:69:
"And whoso maketh efforts for Us, in Our ways will We guide them."]
In their search, they have stoutly
girded up the loins of service, and seek at every moment to journey from the plane of
heedlessness into the realm of being. No bond shall hold them back, and no counsel shall
It is incumbent on these servants that they cleanse the heart--which is the wellspring of divine treasures--from every marking, and that they turn away from imitation, which is following the traces of their forefathers and sires, and shut the door of friendliness and enmity upon all the people of the earth.
In this journey the seeker reacheth a stage wherein he seeth all created things wandering distracted in search of the Friend.
How many a Jacob will he see, hunting after his Joseph; he will behold many a lover, hasting to seek the Beloved, he will witness a world of desiring ones searching after the One Desired.
At every moment he findeth a weighty matter, in every hour he becometh aware of a mystery; for he hath taken his heart away from both worlds,
and set out for the Ka'bih of the
Beloved. At every step, aid from the Invisible Realm will attend him and the heat of his
search will grow.
One must judge of search by the standard of the Majnún of Love. [Literally, Majnún means "insane."
This is the title of the
celebrated lover of ancient Persian and Arabian lore, whose
beloved was Laylí, daughter of an Arabian prince.
Symbolizing true human love
bordering on the divine, the story has been made the theme of many a Persian romantic
particularly that of Nizámí, written in 1188-1189 A.D.] It is related that one day they came upon Majnún sifting the dust, and his tears flowing down.
They said, "What doest
thou?" He said, "I seek for Laylí." They cried, "Alas for thee!
Laylí is of pure spirit, and thou seekest her in the dust!" He said, "I seek
her everywhere; haply somewhere I shall find her."
Yea, although to the wise it be shameful to seek the Lord of Lords in the dust, yet this betokeneth intense ardor in searching.
"Whoso seeketh out a thing
with zeal shall find it."
The true seeker hunteth naught but the object of his quest, and the lover hath no desire save union with his beloved.
Nor shall the seeker reach his
goal unless he sacrifice all things. That is,
whatever he hath seen, and heard, and understood, all must he set at naught, that he may enter the realm of the spirit,
which is the City of God. Labor is needed, if we are to seek Him; ardor is needed, if we are to drink of the honey of reunion with Him; and if we taste of this cup, we shall cast away the world.
On this journey the traveler abideth in every land and dwelleth in every region.
In every face, he seeketh the beauty of the Friend; in every country he looketh for the Beloved.
He joineth every company, and
seeketh fellowship with every soul, that haply in some mind he may uncover the secret of
the Friend, or in some face he may behold the beauty of the Loved One.
And if, by the help of God, he findeth on this journey a trace of the traceless Friend, and inhaleth the fragrance of the long-lost Joseph from the heavenly messenger, [Refer to the story of Joesph in the Qur'án and the Old Testament.] he shall
straightway step into
THE VALLEY OF LOVE
and be dissolved in the fire of love. In this city the heaven of ecstasy is upraised and the world-illuming sun of yearning shineth, and the fire of love is ablaze; and when the fire of love is ablaze, it burneth to ashes the harvest of reason.
Now is the traveler unaware of himself, and of aught besides himself. He seeth neither ignorance nor knowledge, neither doubt nor certitude; he knoweth not the morn of guidance from the night of error.
He fleeth both from unbelief and
faith, and deadly poison is a balm to him. Wherefore Attár [Farídu'd-Dín Attár (ca.
1150-1230 A.D.), the great Persian Súfí poet.] saith:
For the infidel, error--for the faithful, faith;
For Attár's heart, an atom of Thy pain.
The steed of this Valley is pain; and if there be no pain this journey will never end. In this station the lover hath no thought save the Beloved, and seeketh no refuge save the Friend.
At every moment he offereth a
hundred lives in the path of the Loved One, at every step he throweth a thousand heads at
the feet of the Beloved.
O My Brother! Until thou enter the Egypt of love, thou shalt never come to the Joseph of the Beauty of the Friend;
and until, like Jacob, thou
forsake thine outward eyes, thou shalt never open the eye of thine inward being; and until
thou burn with the fire of love, thou shalt never commune with the Lover of Longing.
A lover feareth nothing and no harm can come nigh him: Thou seest him chill in the fire and dry in the sea.
A lover is he who is chill in hell fire;
A knower is he who is dry in the sea. [Persian
Love accepteth no existence and wisheth no life: He seeth life in death, and in shame seeketh glory.
To merit the madness of love, man
must abound in sanity; to merit the bonds of the
Friend, he must be full of spirit.
Blessed the neck that is caught in His noose, happy the head that falleth on the dust in the pathway of His love. Wherefore, O friend, give up thy self that thou mayest find the Peerless One, pass by this mortal earth that thou mayest seek a home in the nest of heaven.
Be as naught, if thou wouldst
kindle the fire of being and be fit for the pathway of love.
Love seizeth not upon a living soul,
The falcon preyeth not on a dead mouse.
[Persian mystic poem. Cf. The Hidden Words, No. 7, Arabic.]
Love setteth a world aflame at every turn, and he wasteth every land where he carrieth his banner.
Being hath no existence in his kingdom; the wise wield no command within his realm.
The leviathan of love swalloweth the master of reason and destroyeth the lord of knowledge.
He drinketh the seven seas, but
his heart's thirst is still unquenched, and he
saith, "Is there yet any more?" [Qur'án 50:29.]
He shunneth himself and draweth
away from all on earth.
Love's a stranger to earth and heaven too;
In him are lunacies seventy-and-two.
[Jalálu'd-Dín Rúmí (1207-1273 A.D.);
The Mathnaví. Jalálu'd-Dín, called
Mawláná< / NOBR> ("our Master"), is the greatest of all Persian Súfí poets, and founder of the Mawlaví "whirling"dervish order.]
He hath bound a myriad victims in his fetters, wounded a myriad wise men with his arrow.
Know that every redness in the world is from his anger,
and every paleness in men's
cheeks is from his poison.
He yieldeth no remedy but death, he walketh not save in the valley of the shadow; yet sweeter than honey is his venom on the lover's lips,
and fairer his destruction in the seeker's eyes than a
hundred thousand lives.
Wherefore must the veils of the satanic self be burned away at the fire of love, that the spirit may be purified and cleansed and thus may know the station of the Lord of the Worlds.
Kindle the fire of love and burn away all things,
Then set thy foot into the land of the lovers.
[From an ode by Bahá'u'lláh.]
And if, confirmed by the Creator, the lover escapes from the claws of the eagle of love, he will enter
THE VALLEY OF KNOWLEDGE
and come out of doubt into certitude, and turn from the darkness of illusion to the guiding light of the fear of God.
His inner eyes will open and he will privily converse with his Beloved; he will set ajar the gate of truth and piety, and shut the doors of vain imaginings.
He in this station is content with the decree of God, and seeth war as peace, and findeth in death the secrets of everlasting life.
With inward and outward eyes he witnesseth the mysteries of resurrection in the realms of creation and the souls of men, and with a pure heart apprehendeth the divine wisdom in the endless Manifestations of God.
In the ocean he findeth a drop, in a drop he beholdeth
the secrets of the sea.
Split the atom's heart, and lo!
Within it thou wilt find a sun.
[Persian Mystic Poem]
The wayfarer in this Valley seeth in the fashionings of the True One nothing save clear providence, and at every moment saith:
"No defect canst thou see in the creation of the God
of Mercy: Repeat the gaze: Seest thou a single flaw?" [Qur'án
He beholdeth justice in injustice, and in justice, grace.
In ignorance he findeth many a knowledge hidden, and in knowledge a myriad wisdoms manifest.
He breaketh the cage of the body and the passions, and
consorteth with the people
of the immortal realm.
He mounteth on the ladders of inner truth and hasteneth to the heaven of inner significance.
He rideth in the ark of "we shall show them our signs in the regions and in themselves," [Qur'án 41:53.] and journeyeth over the sea of "until it become plain to them that (this Book) is the truth." [Qur'án 41:53.]
And if he meeteth with injustice he shall have patience,
and if he cometh upon wrath he shall manifest love.
There was once a lover who had sighed for long years in separation from his beloved, and wasted in the fire of remoteness.
From the rule of love, his heart was empty of patience, and his body weary of his spirit; he reckoned life without her as a mockery, and time consumed him away.
How many a day he found no rest in longing for her; how many a night the pain of her kept him from sleep; his body was worn to a sigh, his heart's wound had turned him to a cry of sorrow.
He had given a thousand lives for one taste of the cup of her presence, but it availed him not.
The doctors knew no cure for him, and companions avoided
his company; yea,
physicians have no medicine for one sick of love, unless the favor of the beloved one deliver him.
At last, the tree of his longing yielded the fruit of despair, and the fire of his hope fell to ashes.
Then one night he could live no more, and he went out of
his house and made for the
marketplace. On a sudden, a watchman followed after him.
He broke into a run, with the watchman following; then other watchmen came together, and barred every passage to the weary one. And the wretched one cried from his heart, and ran here and there, and moaned to himself:
"Surely this watchman is Izrá'íl, my angel of death, following so fast upon me; or he is a tyrant of men, seeking to harm me."
His feet carried him on, the one bleeding with the arrow of love, and his heart lamented.
Then he came to a garden wall, and with untold pain he
scaled it, for it proved very high; and forgetting his life, he threw himself down to the
And there he beheld his beloved with a lamp in her hand, searching for a ring she had lost.
When the heart-surrendered lover looked on his ravishing love, he drew a great breath and raised up his hands in prayer, crying: "O God! Give Thou glory to the watchman, and riches and long life.
For the watchman was Gabriel, guiding this poor one; or
he was Isráfíl, bringing life to this wretched one!"
Indeed, his words were true, for he had found many a secret justice in this seeming tyranny of the watchman, and seen how many a mercy lay hid behind the veil.
Out of wrath, the guard had led him who was athirst in
love's desert to the sea of his
loved one, and lit up the dark night of absence with the light of reunion.
He had driven one who was afar, into the garden of
nearness, had guided an ailing soul to the heart's physician.
Now if the lover could have looked ahead, he would have blessed the watchman at the start, and prayed on his behalf,
and he would have seen that tyranny as justice; but since the end was veiled to him, he moaned and made his plaint in the beginning.
Yet those who journey in the garden land of knowledge,
because they see the end in the beginning, see peace in war and friendliness in anger.
Such is the state of the wayfarers in this Valley; but the people of the Valleys above this see the end and the beginning as one; nay, they see neither beginning nor end, and witness neither "first" nor "last." [Qur'án 57:3.]
Nay rather, the denizens of the undying city, who dwell in the green garden land, see not even "neither first nor last"; they fly from all that is first, and repulse all that is last. For these have passed over the worlds of names, and fled beyond the worlds of attributes as swift as lightning.
Thus is it said: "Absolute Unity excludeth all
attributes." [Saying attributed to `Alí.] And they have made their dwelling-place in
the shadow of the Essence.
Wherefore, relevant to this, Khájih `Abdu'lláh [Shaykh AbúIsmá'íl `Abdu'lláh Ansárí of Hirát (1006-1088 A.D.)
Súfí leader, descended from the Prophet's companion Abú Ayyúb.
Chiefly known for his Munáját (Supplications) and
Rubá'íyyát (Quatrains). "Ansár" means the "Helpers" or companions
of Muhammad in Medina.] --may God the Most High sanctify his beloved spirit--hath made a
subtle point and spoken an eloquent word as to the meaning of "Guide Thou us on the
straight path," [Qur'án 1:5.] which is: "Show us the right way,
that is, honor us with the love of Thine Essence, that we may be freed from turning toward ourselves and toward all else save Thee, and may become wholly Thine, and know only Thee, and see only Thee, and think of none save Thee."
Nay, these even mount above this station, wherefore it is said:
Love is a veil betwixt the lover and the loved one;
More than this I am not permitted to tell.
At this hour the morn of knowledge hath arisen and the lamps of wayfaring and wandering are quenched. [This refers to the mystic wandering and search for truth guided by "Lights" or Súfí leaders.
Bahá'u'lláh here warns the mystics that
the coming of the Divine Manifestation in His Day mak e s further search unnecessary, as
it was said by `Alí: "Quench the lamp
when the sun hath risen"--the sun referring to the Manifestation of God in the New Day.]
Veiled from this was Moses
Though all strength and light;
Then thou who hast no wings at all,
Attempt not flight.
If thou be a man of communion and prayer, soar up on the wings of assistance from Holy Souls, that thou mayest behold the mysteries of the Friend and attain to the lights of the Beloved, "Verily, we are from God and to Him shall we return." [Qur'án 2:151.]
After passing through the Valley of knowledge, which is the last plane of limitation, the wayfarer cometh to
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