The Methods for Investigating Truth 1
TODAY, GREEN ACRE COMPRISES twenty-three acres of grassland and mixed pine and deciduous forest. But in 1912 the land west of the Inn was bare: a treeless view stretched as far as the curve of the river, affording the visitors a panoramic view of the reflecting sunset.
Half an hour after arriving at Green Acre yesterday afternoon, and checking into a corner room on the third floor of the Inn, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá delivered a short address to over eight hundred people. They overflowed the flower-laden “Eirenion,” a lecture hall that Sarah Farmer, Green Acre’s founder, had built and named with a Greek word meaning “The Hall of Peace.” Then ‘Abdu’l-Bahá set off for Portsmouth to visit Miss Farmer, who had been confined in a private sanatorium against her will for the past two years.
In the evening, as the sun settled over the wide western horizon, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá stood again in the Eirenion and gave one of the longest speeches he would deliver during his time in America. Its subject: the methods available to the human mind for investigating reality.
Green Acre 2
Again, day and night, He was occupied in virtually endless discussions with individuals who sought His presence and in speaking with larger groups on topics as diverse as the interests of the people present., Mahmúd noted, on August 17:
“many of the fortune-tellers, spiritualists and ascetics, came there [to Green Acre] every year to spread their superstitious views. The address of the Beauty of the Covenant [‘Abdu’l-Bahá] demolished and destroyed their cobwebs of superstitions. They were checked to such a degree that some of these imposters who in previous years delivered lectures contrary to the Cause of God, now came to His Holy Presence, bowed before Him and expressed repentance.”
That evening ‘Abdu’l-Bahá offered candy to some persons who refrained from eating certain kinds of foods. “‘Food has nothing to do with faith,’” He told them. “‘You should eat things which give you strength and enable you to acquire spirituality.’”
Talk at Green Acre, Eliot, Maine 3
Nay, rather, the virtue of man is this: that he can investigate the ideals of the Kingdom and attain knowledge which is denied the animal in its limitation. The station of man is this: that he has the power to attain those ideals and thereby differentiate and consciously distinguish himself an infinite degree above the kingdoms of existence below him.
The station of man is great, very great. God has created man after His own image and likeness. He has endowed him with a mighty power which is capable of discovering the mysteries of phenomena. Through its use man is able to arrive at ideal conclusions instead of being restricted to the mere plane of sense impressions. As he possesses sense endowment in common with the animals, it is evident that he is distinguished above them by his conscious power of penetrating abstract realities. He acquires divine wisdom; he searches out the mysteries of creation; he witnesses the radiance of omnipotence; he attains the second birth—that is to say, he is born out of the material world just as he is born of the mother; he attains to everlasting life; he draws nearer to God; his heart is replete with the love of God. This is the foundation of the world of humanity; this is the image and likeness of God; this is the reality of man; otherwise, he is an animal. Verily, God has created the animal in the image and likeness of man, for though man outwardly is human, yet in nature he possesses animal tendencies.
You must endeavor to understand the mysteries of God, attain the ideal knowledge and arrive at the station of vision, acquiring directly from the Sun of Reality and receiving a destined portion from the ancient bestowal of God.
Monday, August 17, 1912 4
The beloved Master’s health was better and He was happy. He spoke of the pleasant climate of Green Acre and visited with friends and seekers until He left for a walk. On the way to Mr [Charles Mason] Remey’s house the Master was accompanied by a group to whom He spoke about many spiritual truths. When He arrived, Mr Remey offered Him a cup of water, saying that he had longed for many years to invite the Master and that he thanked God for being given the honor to offer Him a cup of water. The Master said:
“Your home is simple and furnished plainly. People are captivated by the superfluities of the present generation. It is impossible for a man to furnish his house in utmost perfection. The more he tries the more he finds it lacking because every day new products are manufactured. People have filled their lives with difficulties.”
Later the Master went to the home of Mrs [Carrie] Kinney. There He spoke about material progress and the philosophers’ lack of feeling for the spiritual kingdom, saying that ‘This is befitting of animals. Truth must be sought and laid bare. No one should endeavor to force upon people what he conceives. The brilliant reality, which is the spirit of the world today, is one. It can never be multiple.’ He uttered such statements on numerous occasions and in various ways. Because Green Acre is known as a center for religious freedom and advanced liberal views, many fortune-tellers, spiritualists and ascetics come here every year to spread their superstitious views. The discourse of the Center of the Covenant completely swept away the cobwebs of their superstitions. They were checked to such a degree that some of the impostors, who in previous years had delivered lectures contrary to the Cause of God, now came to see Him, bowing before Him and repenting. Some of them begged Him to heal them, saying, ‘You have healed many.’ The Master replied:
“We pray but God bestows healing. We do not make claims for ourselves. We are only the expounders of the Word. We are all promulgating the Cause of Bahá’u’lláh. I am ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. Bahá’u’lláh is the Dawning Place of Holiness. Address your needs to Him. I am only the expounder and promulgator of the Word. Bahá’u’lláh is the Source, the One Who has illumined this dark world, made corporeal into spiritual, quickened the dormant minds, changed the earthly souls into heavenly ones and given life to the dead and sight to the blind.”
That night He delivered an address on the unity of mankind in the east hall of the Eirenian. On His return to the Inn He spoke with the audience in jests which nevertheless touched on many important subjects. He offered sweets to some visitors who, following the superstitious ideas of the ascetics, did not eat certain foods. He dispelled their beliefs by saying, ‘Food has nothing to do with faith. Rather, you should eat things to gain strength and you should acquire spirituality.’
’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
- Sockett, Robert, and Jonathan Menon. “The Methods for Investigating Truth.” 239 Days in America, 17 Aug. 2012, https://239days.com/2012/08/17/the-methods-of-investigating-reality/. ↩
- Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 125-126. ↩
- 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, 262-263. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/19#680440450 ↩
- ’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=6#section146 ↩