George de Forest Brush, “Lover of Indians” 1
A FIRE BURNED IN a clearing a few steps from the house on Brush Farm. A chair tottered on top, as the flames licked its legs. It cracked and gently succumbed to the heat.
They never knew on Brush Farm when George de Forest Brush would go on a rampage through the house checking for furniture with lathe-turned legs, to see if it had been made by machine. If it was, then out it went to the bonfire. “No machinery can do joyful work,” he believed. “The really useful things,” he said, “are made ugly by machinery and only the few things of life are beautiful.”
Brush’s daughter, Nancy [Douglas Bowditch], wrote in her memoirs that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá asked Mrs. Parsons to explain Bahá’u’lláh to Brush. But ‘Abdu’l-Bahá also told her that Brush would laugh at her. Everything Agnes Parsons did was high Washington society, dressed to the nines, stiff and formal with her strong Southern accent. Here in Dublin folks were more relaxed, especially the easy-going artists.
Tuesday, July 30, 1912 2
Mírzá ‘Alí Akbar Nakhjavání remarked that the enthusiasm of the people was due to the power of the Covenant and the influence of the Master’s words. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá replied: ‘It is not due to my power but to my Father’s; it is all His work.’ Today He invited both Eastern and Western friends to be His guests. Some stayed in His house while others were given accommodation at the hotel located in the warmer climate at the bottom of the mountain. The guests came to the hotel every morning to visit Him. Meetings were held in the afternoon at the home of Mr and Mrs Parsons. The audience of prominent persons was fascinated by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and His qualities. Several people invited the Master to their homes.
In His talk in the afternoon at Mrs Parsons’s home He made clear that:
“Confirmation is not dependent on talent, knowledge or wisdom. Many unimportant persons have made significant discoveries. Many people labored for years to explore the North Pole but Admiral Peary reached it. One’s efforts should be focussed on the object of one’s quest. Because Columbus found confirmation, he discovered America with a minimum of difficulty. The disciples of Christ were apparently abased, yet they achieved something which Napoleon never did: they changed the whole aspect of the world. So it is evident that everything comes about through the assistance of God.”
Talk to Theosophical Society, The Kensington, Exeter and Boylston Streets, Boston, Massachusetts, 24 July 1912 3
How wonderful is the spirit of man! One of the mysteries of natural phenomena is electricity. Man has discovered this illimitable power and made it captive to his uses. How many of nature’s secrets have been penetrated and revealed! Columbus, while in Spain, discovered America. Man has accurately determined that the sun is stationary while the earth revolves about it. The animal cannot do this. Man perceives the mirage to be an illusion. This is beyond the power of the animal. The animal can only know through sense impressions and cannot grasp intellectual realities. The animal cannot conceive of the power of thought. This is an abstract intellectual matter and not limited to the senses. The animal is incapable of knowing that the earth is round. In brief, abstract intellectual phenomena are human powers. All creation below the kingdom of man is the captive of nature; it cannot deviate in the slightest degree from nature’s laws. But man wrests the sword of dominion from nature’s hand and uses it upon nature’s head. For example, it is a natural exigency that man should be a dweller upon the earth, but the power of the human spirit transcends this limitation, and he soars aloft in airplanes. This is contrary to the law and requirement of nature. He sails at high speed upon the ocean and dives beneath its surface in submarines. He imprisons the human voice in a phonograph and communicates in the twinkling of an eye from East to West. These are things we know to be contrary to the limitations of natural law. Man transcends nature, while the mineral, vegetable and animal are helplessly subject to it. This can be done only through the power of the spirit, because the spirit is the reality.
’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
- Menon, Morella, and Jonathan Menon. “George de Forest Brush, ‘Lover of Indians.’” 239 Days in America, 30 July 2012, https://239days.com/2012/07/30/george-de-forest-brush-lover-of-indians/. ↩
- ’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#section128 ↩
- 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, 241. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/17#021884557 ↩