An Ethos for a New Age 1
“ALL CREATED THINGS HAVE their degree, or stage, of maturity,” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá explained. “That which was applicable to human needs during the early history of the race, could neither meet nor satisfy the demands of this day and period of newness and consummation.”
It was the evening of November 17, 1912. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was delivering one of his final public talks in America. The venue was Genealogical Hall, a stately four-story brownstone at 226 West 58th Street on the southern fringe of Central Park in the heart of Manhattan. It was home to the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society, an organization devoted to preserving family histories in the region, dating back to the colonial period. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá didn’t address the Society: it was an event arranged by New York’s Bahá’ís. Nevertheless, he framed his talk around the idea of the genealogy of the human family.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá argued that just as an individual moves through various milestones in life, so too does humanity as a whole. Humankind, he explained, had passed through its childhood and youth, and had “entered its long presaged period of maturity, the evidences of which are everywhere visible and apparent.”
Sunday, November 17, 1912 2
Early in the morning ‘Abdu’l-Bahá voiced His thankfulness to the Abhá Kingdom, saying:
“Praise be to God! His divine help and assistance have enveloped us and the confirmations of the Abhá Kingdom have surrounded us. The Cause of God has reached every ear and the divine fragrances have spread throughout all regions. The East and the West are illumined with the light of the most great guidance. The foundation of the Cause of God is firmly and securely established. The friends of the Blessed Beauty have risen in faithfulness and occupied themselves in proclaiming the Word of God. The foundation of the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár is laid. I have no further desire. I wish to reach Haifa and to settle again in the Holy Land. It is now your turn to serve, to render your servitude to the holy threshold. Occupy yourselves day and night in the diffusion of the divine fragrances. All confirmations encircle those who are engaged in rendering services to the court of oneness. Nothing avails except servitude to the Blessed Beauty. If, after the ascension of the Blessed Beauty, I had not risen in servitude to Him, these confirmations would not have descended.”
After a short pause, He continued:
“Had there not been this servitude, constancy and confirmation the affairs would have fallen into the hands of the ambitious and the standard of the Cause would have fallen forever. Unseemly matters would have ensued. The story of Yahyá would have been repeated. Had it not been for the firmness and power of the Ancient Beauty, the mainstay of the Cause would have fallen apart. Nothing would have been witnessed but the propagation of selfish desires and, apart from these, nothing would have been witnessed but the propagation of selfish desires and, apart from these, nothing would have remained but some words and phrases.”
Today He mentioned the passing of Áqá Ridá Ghánad Muhájir and spoke about the greatness of his station, saying, ‘I must go myself to the Holy Land to build his effulgent tomb with my own hands and read there a prayer of visitation.’
From morning until the afternoon every room of the Master’s residence was full of people. All were recipients of His everlasting bounties and bathed in the surging waves of the love of God.
This evening the Master spoke to a gathering of the friends regarding the maturity and perfection of the world and gave an account of Bahá’u’lláh. He concluded His address with the chanting of a prayer in a melodious voice, immersing the hearts in a sea of ecstasy and rapture. Many new people attended the meeting and were impressed and moved by the blessings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. They remained in His presence until He left, expressing their sincerity and reverence.
Talk at Genealogical Hall, 252 West Fifty-eighth Street, New York 3
Bahá’u’lláh, the Sun of Truth, has dawned from the horizon of the Orient, flooding all regions with the light and life which will never pass away. His teachings, which embody the divine spirit of the age and are applicable to this period of maturity in the life of the human world, are:
The oneness of the world of humanity
The protection and guidance of the Holy Spirit
The foundation of all religion is one
Religion must be the cause of unity
Religion must accord with science and reason
Independent investigation of truth
Equality between men and women
The abandoning of all prejudices among mankind
A universal language
Solution of the economic problem
An international tribunal.
Everyone who truly seeks and justly reflects will admit that the teachings of the present day emanating from mere human sources and authority are the cause of difficulty and disagreement amongst mankind, the very destroyers of humanity, whereas the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh are the very healing of the sick world, the remedy for every need and condition. In them may be found the realization of every desire and aspiration, the cause of the happiness of the world of humanity, the stimulus and illumination of mentality, the impulse for advancement and uplift, the basis of unity for all nations, the fountain source of love amongst mankind, the center of agreement, the means of peace and harmony, the one bond which will unite the East and the West.
’Abdu’l-Bahá in America, 1912-2012: Calling America to Its Spiritual Destiny
Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America
Curated by Anne Perry
- Sockett, Robert. “An Ethos for a New Age.” 239 Days in America, 17 Nov. 2012, https://239days.com/2012/11/17/an-ethos-for-a-new-age/. ↩
- ’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=9#section239 ↩
- 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, 440. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/32#118365223 ↩