I Was Tired So I Slept 1
FRANK SINATRA SANG THAT he wanted to “Wake up in the city that doesn’t sleep.” He meant New York. But, on June 13, 1912, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá just wanted to sleep.
“I was tired so I slept,” he said, after resting briefly in the middle of the afternoon. It had been another busy day at his residence in Manhattan. Several prominent ministers had called to converse, drink tea, and invite him to speak at their churches. As usual, the front door had opened to visitors at 7:30 a.m. and would remain so until midnight, when ‘Abdu’l-Bahá would often start attending to his correspondence.
He frequently survived on less than three hours sleep. In fact, throughout his life, sleep had often been something of a luxury.
New York, Philadelphia, New York 2
On June 13 the continuing streams of people prompted ‘Abdu’l-Bahá to instruct those with Him, “‘If anyone who has not seen Me as yet wishes to see Me, or if anyone has some urgent business, inform Me. All others I will meet in the public meeting, because I have neither time nor strength to see people individually.’”
Thursday, June 13, 1912
In the morning and afternoon several prominent ministers visited the Master to invite Him to their churches. They left happy and submissive after receiving the bounty of being in His presence and witnessing the effulgence of His countenance. After they left, the Master spoke to the friends and newcomers about the power and majesty of the Blessed Beauty. With great power and dignity He related the story of the last days of ‘Abdu’l-Hamíd and the malicious accusations of the enemies and adversaries:
In spite of all these persecutions and afflictions, the Cause of God triumphed and the Covenant of God gained influence. In fact, even members of the Commission of Inquiry, who every hour ordered a more severe persecution and spread a fresh calumny and who had joined our enemies and adversaries at ‘Akká with the aim of destroying and effacing us, were overtaken by the wrath of God while returning to Constantinople. Affairs changed; all the tyrants were debased; some of the members of this very commission were killed or murdered; and some fled away. Finally, one of them went to the believers in Egypt and begged for minimum subsistence.
The Master gave two talks in the afternoon to the gatherings of the friends. The first was about the differences among the Bahá’ís. ‘Bahá’u’lláh’, He said, ‘declared that should Bahá’ís dispute, even if it be regarding Bahá’u’lláh Himself, both are wrong. He has enjoined all to turn to the House of Justice. But prior to its being established, all matters should be referred to the Center of the Covenant whom all are commanded to obey.’
After a brief rest, the Master went to another meeting where He spoke on the distinguishing characteristics of the world of humanity. His introductory words were as follows:
“I was tired and so I slept. While I was sleeping, I was conversing with you as though speaking at the top of my voice. Then through the effect of my own voice I awoke. As I awoke, one word was upon my lips — the word imtíyáz (‘distinction’). So I will speak to you upon that subject.” 3
Talk at 309 West Seventy-eighth Street, New York, 11 June 1912
But the life of man is not so restricted; it is divine, eternal, not mortal and sensual. For him a spiritual existence and livelihood is prepared and ordained in the divine creative plan. His life is intended to be a life of spiritual enjoyment to which the animal can never attain. This enjoyment depends upon the acquisition of heavenly virtues. The sublimity of man is his attainment of the knowledge of God. The bliss of man is the acquiring of heavenly bestowals, which descend upon him in the outflow of the bounty of God. The happiness of man is in the fragrance of the love of God. This is the highest pinnacle of attainment in the human world. How preferable to the animal and its hopeless kingdom!
Therefore, consider how base a nature it reveals in man that, notwithstanding the favors showered upon him by God, he should lower himself into the animal sphere, be wholly occupied with material needs, attached to this mortal realm, imagining that the greatest happiness is to attain wealth in this world. How purposeless! How debased is such a nature! God has created man in order that he may be a dove of the Kingdom, a heavenly candle, a recipient of eternal life. God has created man in order that he may be resuscitated through the breaths of the Holy Spirit and become the light of the world. How debased the soul which can find enjoyment in this darkness, occupied with itself, the captive of self and passion, wallowing in the mire of the material world! How degraded is such a nature! What an ignorance this is! What a blindness! How glorious the station of man who has partaken of the heavenly food and built the temple of his everlasting residence in the world of heaven!
The Manifestations of God have come into the world to free man from these bonds and chains of the world of nature. Although They walked upon the earth, They lived in heaven. They were not concerned about material sustenance and prosperity of this world. Their bodies were subjected to inconceivable distress, but Their spirits ever soared in the highest realms of ecstasy. The purpose of Their coming, Their teaching and suffering was the freedom of man from himself. Shall we, therefore, follow in Their footsteps, escape from this cage of the body or continue subject to its tyranny? Shall we pursue the phantom of a mortal happiness which does not exist or turn toward the tree of life and the joys of its eternal fruits? 4
’Abdu’l-Bahá in America, 1912-2012: Calling America to It’s Spiritual Destiny
Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America
Curated by Anne Perry
- Knight, Annabel. “I Was Tired So I Slept.” 239 Days in America, 13 June 2012, https://239days.com/2012/06/13/i-was-tired-so-i-slept/. ↩
- Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 90. ↩
- ’Abdu’l-Bahá, and Mirza Mahmud-i-Zarqani. Mahmúd’s Diary: The Diary of Mírzá Mahmúd-i-Zarqání Chronicling ’Abdu’l-Bahá’s Journey to America. Edited by Shirley Macias. Translated by Mohi Sobhani. Oxford: George Ronald, 1998. https://bahai-library.com/zarqanimahmudsdiary&chapter=4#section81 ↩
- ʻAbduʼl-Bahá. The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by ʻAbduʼl-Bahá during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912. Edited by Howard MacNutt. 2nd ed. Wilmette, Ill: Baháʼí Publishing Trust, 1982, 185-186. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/14#080928132. ↩