‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s Impressions of New York 1
THE HOT SUN BEAT down on ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and his companions as they sat on the grass in an expansive New York park. One of them read aloud from the July 7, 1912 edition of The Sun, a popular New York paper. The half-page story was entitled: “ABDUL BAHA GIVES HIS IMPRESSIONS OF NEW YORK.”
“He hasn’t cared to see any of the notable buildings of New York and has not visited the museums and art galleries,” the article stated. In fact, “He has seen less of New York and this country than the average traveller from abroad, and although he is to remain here until fall, there is little likelihood that he will see much more before he departs.”
Despite an itinerary that has had him moving between New York, Washington, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Boston, and Philadelphia, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá can hardly be classified as a tourist. “I am not interested in things that are merely beautiful to look at,” he said. “I have nothing to do with mortar and clay. I wish to view an edifice that is never to be destroyed.”
Saturday, July 6, 1912 2
After morning prayers and visits with some Bahá’ís and non-Bahá’ís, the Master went for a long walk. It was His custom to go out for a walk before lunch and dinner.
A person of Greek ancestry invited the Master to go to a park outside of the city where a number of his friends, who desired to meet ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, had gathered. The Master went to the park. While traveling on the subway, He said:
“In man’s nature there must be a desire to ascend and not to descend. The underground air is suffocating. It would have been better if we had gone by road above. The Blessed Beauty used to say that it is even a pity that the dead body of man should be buried under the ground.”
When the Master entered the park, He sat on the grass and those who wished to meet Him came to Him.
Much of the time was spent listening to a translation of a long article that appeared in today’s issue of The Sun concerning ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s talk at a church. The reporter had been present when the address was given and had published the translation, adding a brief history of the Cause. In his article, he emphasized the force of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s reasoning in establishing the truth of all of the Manifestations of God, and in particular of Islam and this mighty Cause.
The newspaper was sent to the Assemblies in the East so they would be informed of the influence of the Cause and the prestige of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. In addition to such articles and comments in the newspapers of many cities, both Bahá’ís and non-Bahá’ís wrote eulogies and poems in praise of the Master. Everyone was full of praise for Him, which demonstrates the influence of the Cause in the West. There were even short, sweet poems written in English about His manners and mode of speech. Foremost among such poets was Mr McSway. When the Master was staying in New York, Mr McSway had written a booklet eloquently praising Him, which he intends to publish in the near future.
This evening the Master explained that the distinction of the world of humanity is due to its relationship to the world of the spirit.
For some time the Master had repeatedly instructed Lua Getsinger to return to California. She delayed her journey and then became ill. When the doctor’s medications proved of no avail, the Master gave her pomegranate preserve with an apple and she recovered.
Talk at 309 West Seventy-eighth Street, New York 3
In the world of existence man has traversed successive degrees until he has attained the human kingdom. In each degree of his progression he has developed capacity for advancement to the next station and condition. While in the kingdom of the mineral he was attaining the capacity for promotion into the degree of the vegetable. In the kingdom of the vegetable he underwent preparation for the world of the animal, and from thence he has come onward to the human degree, or kingdom. Throughout this journey of progression he has ever and always been potentially man.
In the beginning of his human life man was embryonic in the world of the matrix. There he received capacity and endowment for the reality of human existence. The forces and powers necessary for this world were bestowed upon him in that limited condition. In this world he needed eyes; he received them potentially in the other. He needed ears; he obtained them there in readiness and preparation for his new existence. The powers requisite in this world were conferred upon him in the world of the matrix so that when he entered this realm of real existence he not only possessed all necessary functions and powers but found provision for his material sustenance awaiting him.
’Abdu’l-Bahá in America, 1912-2012: Calling America to It’s Spiritual Destiny
Listening to a translation of a long article appeared in today’s issue of The Sun
Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America
Curated by Anne Perry
- Jones, Caitlin Shayda. “’Abdu’l-Bahá’s Impressions of New York.” 239 Days in America, 6 July 2012, https://239days.com/2012/07/06/a-message-for-america/. ↩
- ’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/zarqani_mahmuds_diary&chapter=5#section104 ↩
- 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, 225-226. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/16#040319417 ↩