239 Days in America, Day 121: August 09, 1912 | Dublin

The Symbolic Language of the Bible 1

“THE HOLY BOOKS HAVE their special terminologies,” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá told an audience at the Dublin Inn on August 5, 1912. “Physicians have their own peculiar terms; architects, philosophers have their characteristic expressions; poets have their phrases; and scientists, their nomenclature.” It was one of the few talks he gave in the scenic town of Dublin, New Hampshire, that was transcribed for posterity. His subject was religious scripture and the symbolic language it employs.

Narrow-minded interpretations of scripture, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá argued, have held people back from recognizing the truth. Christians and Jews, for example, had clung to the literal meaning of prophecies that said “The Messiah shall appear from heaven.” Although Christ was in their midst these people denied him, saying, “This man came from Nazareth; we know his house; we know his parents and people.” The true meaning of the statement, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá argued, “is that the divine reality of Christ was from heaven, but the body was born of Mary.”

‘Abdu’l-Bahá urged his audience in Dublin to search for the “inner meanings” of things. He quoted a popular Eastern phrase: “When my friend entered the house, the doors and walls began to sing and dance.” The point, he said, is to “engage in the matter according to its own terms and usages.”

New Hampshire 2

When a young man asked Him, on August 9, in what school He had learned His philosophy, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá replied, “‘In the school in which Christ learned it.’”

Friday, August 9, 1912 3

A number of the friends, both old and new, were present at ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s house. One of their questions was whether the existence of evil proceeds from God. He replied:

“There is no evil in existence. Evil is non-existence. All that is created is good. Ignorance is evil and it is the non-existence of knowledge; it has no existence of its own. Hence, evil is the non-existence of good. Want of wealth is poverty; absence of justice is oppression; want of perfection is deficiency. All of these opposites imply non-existence and not existence.”

At the public meeting in the afternoon ‘Abdu’l-Bahá exhorted the audience to refrain from blind imitation, reminding them that the distinction of man lies in his ability to investigate reality and ascertain the truth. He spoke of the coming of Bahá’u’lláh and explained some of the teachings of the Supreme Pen.

After lovingly shaking hands with those present, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá came into the room where we were and asked about our health, saying to us, ‘Come here, be seated. Mrs Parsons has sent tea, sweets and some fruit for you. Eat and drink.’ Then with a merry twinkle in His eyes, He continued:

“Oh! You are very badly off here! May God hear your complaint! Oh! It is so difficult to live in this manner, to dwell in such a house, to breathe such air! And to stay with such servants and respected friends is, of course, very hard for you! May God come to your help!”

Then He said:

“Joking aside, what a wonderful table the Blessed Perfection has spread for His friends! Had kings come here they would have been served but this fervor and zeal of the friends would not have appeared for any one of them. These noble people who serve you love you with heart and soul and serve you without any fear, hope or expectation of reward. The poet spoke truly when he said that three things are scarce, namely, the demon, the phoenix and the faithful friend. Yes, like the demon and the phoenix, the true friend is rare. But under the shadow of the Word of God, the Blessed Beauty has produced such friends for you.”

’Abdu’l-Bahá in America, 1912-2012: Calling America to It’s Spiritual Destiny

“… evil is the non-existence of good.”

Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America

Curated by Anne Perry

August 9, 1912


  1. Jones, Caitlin Shayda. “The Symbolic Language of the Bible.” 239 Days in America, 9 Aug. 2012, https://239days.com/2012/08/09/the-symbolic-language-of-religion/.
  2. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 121.
  3. ’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#section138

239 Days in America, Day 120: August 08, 1912 | Dublin

The Rights Not Only of Women, But of Men 1

AGNES PARSONS AND HER husband, Jeffrey, walk down the hill from Tiny May to Day-Spring to meet ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. They are on their way to the Cabots’ for lunch. The grass is dry and Agnes’s shoes become dusty from the walk. As ‘Abdu’l-Bahá approaches, Agnes asks Jeffrey to clean them off for her. Jeffrey bends down to clean the shoes, and looks up at ‘Abdu’l-Bahá with a humorous expression which, Agnes will recall, “He enjoyed very much.”

In November in Chicago, in front of a group of women, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá will recall the incident with the shoes differently: “I said, ‘Madam! Do you also clean your husband’s shoes?’ She replied that she cleaned his clothes. I said, ‘No, that is not equality. You, too, must clean his shoes.’”

The suffragists are busy in 1912. The women of California won the right to vote on March 28. The suffragists paraded up Fifth Avenue in New York City on May 5. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá has argued vigorously for women’s rights from the first day he landed in America. But his memory of the incident with Agnes Parsons’s shoes in Dublin prompts him to argue for the equal rights of men, too.

Tuesday, August 8, 1912 2

One of the devoted friends asked the Master about imperfect realities and their immortality. He replied:

“All realities and spirits are immortal, even the spirits of non-believers and imperfect persons. But they cannot be compared in any way with the spirits of the sanctified souls and holy personages. Although this wood has existence, yet in comparison with the existence of man, it is as nothing.”

In the afternoon ‘Abdu’l-Bahá spoke at a public gathering. He touched on various aspects of love and unity among people and the necessity for cooperation and mutual assistance in human society. In answer to a question regarding vengeance, He replied that man has no right to seek vengeance but that the community is responsible for the protection of all life, property and honor. He then went on to say:

“The more material education advances, the more competitive is the race in aggression and injustice. But spiritual education is the cause of competition in praiseworthy actions and the acquisition of human perfections. We hope that day by day these injustices will diminish and the spiritual virtues increase.”

The Master went into another room where a young man with a striking personality and pleasing appearance asked Him in what school He had studied philosophy. The Master answered: ‘In the same school where Christ studied.’ He then asked the Master, ‘What is the relationship between God and nature?’ The Master replied:

“Some of the philosophers believe that God is the Supreme Reality and that every human being has a spark of this divine reality within him; that He Himself is in a state of utmost power and that all things manifest Him according to their different capacities. Therefore they hold that the Supreme Being is dispersed into infinite forms. This is the position of Plato. But we say that existence as conceived by man or comprehended through human reason or intellect is a characteristic of matter. Matter is like unto essence, while existence is its manifestation. The body of man is essence and existence is dependent upon it. This human body is matter while existence is a power conditioned on matter.

But it is not so with the Essential Self-Existent One. His existence is true existence which is self-subsistent, not an intellectually perceived and comprehended existence; it is an Existence by which all created things come into being. All things are like unto His handiwork and are dependent upon Him. We refer to Him as Self-Existent because we need to make use of a term but we do not mean that that Being can be contained within our comprehension. What is intended is the Reality from Whom all things emanate, the Reality through Whom all things exist.”

Not only was the questioner grateful and satisfied with this response but everyone else was also pleased.

’Abdu’l-Bahá in America, 1912-2012: Calling America to It’s Spiritual Destiny

Human spirit is immortal but there are differences in stations

Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America

Curated by Anne Perry

August 8, 1912


  1. Menon, Morella. “The Rights Not Only of Women, But of Men.” 239 Days in America, 8 Aug. 2012, https://239days.com/2012/08/08/the-rights-not-only-of-women-but-of-men/.
  2. ’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#section137

239 Days in America, Day 119: August 07, 1912 | Dublin

The Progressive Party Acclaims Theodore Roosevelt 1

THE MOMENT THEODORE ROOSEVELT appeared on stage, a sea of red bandanas erupted from the ten thousand people who filled the Chicago Coliseum. It was one o’clock in the afternoon on Sunday, August 6, 1912. TR stood smiling, waving, and shaking hands for fifty-eight minutes before the demonstrations, the songs, and the cheering died down enough for him to finally step forward and speak.

The National Progressive Party Convention was the fourth convention of this unusual election year. The socialists had named their presidential candidate in May, the Republicans in June, and the Democrats at the beginning of July. A few hours after losing the Republican nomination to President Taft on Saturday, June 22, Roosevelt and his supporters had met in Chicago’s Orchestra Hall and started a new political party.

“The victory shall be ours,” he told them. “We fight in honorable fashion for the good of mankind; fearless for the future; unheeding of our individual fates; with unflinching hearts and undimmed eyes; we stand at Armageddon, and we battle for the Lord!”

“Never before had Roosevelt used such evangelical language, or dared to present himself as a holy warrior,” Edmund Morris writes in his 2010 Pulitzer Prize-winning biography of the Colonel. “Intentionally or not, he invested progressivism with a divine aura.”

Wednesday, August 7, 1912 2

I shall content myself today with recording just one of the Master’s addresses. He delivered this talk in the afternoon in home of Mr and Mrs Parsons. The audience was greatly moved and a wonderful spirit of sincerity spread throughout the gathering. The following is the transcription of His address as well as the questions and answers on the immortality of the soul.

“He is God! We must first prove that there is no annihilation in creation. Annihilation is only the decomposition of elements. For example, all these things we see in existence are made up of elements; that is, single atoms have combined and have formed infinite patterns. Every combination produces an entity. For example, through the combination of certain elements this flower has come into existence. Its annihilation means only the decomposition of this combination, it does not mean the destruction of the individual atoms or principal elements because these remain and will not be destroyed. When we say that this flower is destroyed we mean that its combination is decomposed but the principal elements remain; only their combination is destroyed.

“In the same way, man has come into existence as the result of the combination of certain elements. Although his death is the disintegration of these elements, the elements are not annihilated. Therefore, life consists of the combination of elements and death of their dissolution or transference from one state to another. The transference of the vegetable to the animal world is the death of the former. Draw your own conclusions from this. Similarly, the transference of man from this world of matter and the dissolution of his elements constitute human death. Thus, it should be known that for existence there is no death. At most there is a transfer from one state to another. As the soul of man is not the result of composition and does not come into being through the affinity of molecular elements, it is not subject to disintegration. If it were, then we would say the soul has died. But because it is not composed, therefore it cannot be decomposed. And it is clear that even the basic elements are not subject to decomposition as they are not a compound composition. No doubt remains regarding this matter.

“Second, the transference of the body from one condition to another brings about no change or alteration in the soul. For instance, the body is young but it grows old, while the soul remains unaffected; the body becomes weak but the soul does not; the body becomes diseased or paralyzed but the soul remains unchanged. It has often come to pass that one of the limbs of the body has been amputated; the soul, however, remains the same and is not affected at all. Therefore, it is clear that the changes experienced by the body do not affect the soul. As long as it is unchanged, it will remain eternal. The pivot of mortality is change and alteration.

“Third, in the world of sleep, man’s body is powerless and his faculties inactive. The eye does not see, the ear does not hear, the body does not move; but the soul sees, hears, moves and discovers realities. Therefore, it is proven that the soul is not destroyed with the death of the body; it does not perish after the death of the body; it does not sleep when the body is asleep; rather, it has perception, it discovers, it flies and it travels.

“Fourth, the body is here but the soul is present in the East or the West. While in the West, it puts the affairs of the East in order; while in the East, it explores the affairs of the West. It manages and regulates the momentous affairs of the world. The body is in one single place but the soul is present in various places and countries. It discovers America while in Spain. Thus, the soul has a control and influence which the body has not. The body cannot see but the soul can see and has perception. Therefore, it follows that its existence is not dependent on the body.

“Fifth, no effect occurs without a cause. It is impossible for a cause to be non-existent when its light and radiance are manifest, for fire not to exist when its heat is sensed, for light not to exist when illumined objects are witnessed, mind not to exist when the power of thought is present. Briefly, there can be no effect without a cause, for as long as there is an effect there must be a cause. Therefore, though Christ appeared one thousand nine hundred and twelve years ago, His signs still exist today and His sovereignty and influence are manifest. Is it possible for that divine Spirit to be non-existent and these great signs still to be present? Therefore it is established that the Cause of these signs is He Who is the source of eternal light and everlasting bounties.

“Sixth, everything can have only one shape, whether it be triangular, square or pentagonal. An object cannot have different shapes at the same time. For instance, this carpet is rectangular; is it possible that it can have a circular shape as well? It cannot. That is possible only if it loses its first form and takes a new one. Nevertheless, while it is impossible for an object to possess diverse forms at one and the same time, the spirit of man possesses all forms and has manifold shapes simultaneously. It has no need to change from one form to another. As it is beyond change and forms, it is non-material and eternal.

“Seventh, when a man looks at creation, he sees two things: that which is perceptible to the senses and that which is abstract. The things that are perceptible to the senses, such as vegetables, minerals and animals, that can be seen by the eyes, heard by the ears, smelled, touched or tasted, are subject to change. But rational powers are not perceived by the physical senses. The power of the mind and knowledge are intellectual realities and are not subject to change or alteration. The eye cannot see them; the ear cannot hear them. It is impossible that knowledge, which is an intellectual reality, be changed into ignorance. The soul, too, is one of the intellectual realities: it is unalterable and is not subject to annihilation.

“A person who is endowed with perception has spirituality and heavenly attributes; he can recognize that the human soul has never been subject to annihilation and will never become so. He sees that all created beings are in harmony with the spirit and are under its influence. He knows himself to be eternal, everlasting, constant, imperishable and encompassed by the lights of God, the Lord of glory. For he has spiritual susceptibilities and is affected by conscience and spiritual impulses. He is not limited by rational constraints or human emotions and sentiments. However, the man who has no perception or inner sight finds himself always dejected and lifeless; every time he thinks of death, he is afraid, because he considers himself to be mortal.

“Blessed souls are not of this category. They sense that they are eternal, luminous and imperishable like the disciples of Christ. It is for this reason that at the time of death or martyrdom Bahá’ís rejoice, because they know there is no death or annihilation for them. At most, the body disintegrates but the soul exists in the divine world and has everlasting life.”

The audience was deeply moved by this address and all expressed their satisfaction and became devoted to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.

’Abdu’l-Bahá in America, 1912-2012: Calling America to It’s Spiritual Destiny

“… for existence there is no death … there is a transfer from one state to another.”

Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America

Curated by Anne Perry

August 7, 1912


  1. Menon, Jonathan. “The Progressive Party Acclaims Theodore Roosevelt.” 239 Days in America, 7 Aug. 2012, https://239days.com/2012/08/07/the-progressive-party-acclaims-theodore-roosevelt/.
  2. ’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#section136

239 Days in America, Day 118: August 06, 1912 | Dublin

Socialism, Strikes, and Oscar Wilde 1

THE AIR IS CHILLY tonight. The time is well past midnight and most of Dublin is asleep. At Brush Farm, George de Forest Brush is chatting with his guest, Margaret Sanger, who is busy adding another log to the fire. Margaret writes a column for the Socialist newspaper the New York Call. Three months from now she will start a new series on sex education entitled “What Every Girl Should Know,” which will be censored by the United States Post Office. Tonight she departs from the theme of women’s health and talks to George about Oscar Wilde’s essay, “The Soul of Man under Socialism.”

‘Abdu’l-Bahá is sleeping tonight, but he had addressed the problem of strikes even before he was freed from house arrest in Palestine. “The principal cause of these difficulties,” he said, “lies in the laws of the present civilization; for they lead to a small number of individuals accumulating incomparable fortunes, beyond their needs, while the greater number remain destitute.”

“Rules and laws should be established to regulate the excessive fortunes of certain private individuals,” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá asserted, “and meet the needs of millions of the poor masses.” But, as usual, he rejected the fundamental premise of Socialism: that perfect economic equality should be legislated. Excessive equality, he argued, would destroy the body politic: “Absolute equality is just as impossible, for absolute equality in fortunes, honors, commerce, agriculture, industry would end in disorderliness, in chaos.”

New Hampshire 2

On August 5 a visitor told Him that her friends had warned her not to come lest she fall into a trap. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá replied, “‘God be thanked that we have been in this trap for sixty years and we are happy in it. … It is a trap that frees the people from the shackles of prejudice and superstitions … it makes them the captives of the love of God and service to the Cause of the oneness of humanity.’”

After a meeting that same day when ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had referred to the cow as the greatest of materialistic philosophers since she knows nothing beyond the sensory level of the animal, He and several others went for an automobile ride. Coming across a herd of cows the ladies said, “‘Master, see how this crowd of philosophers is afraid of the car and is running before it,’” and Abdu’l-Bahá laughed. Mahmúd noted, “As Americans like such jests, it became an oft repeated remark.”

Talk at Dublin Inn, Dublin, New Hampshire 3

Aside from all this, there is need of the stimulus of the joy of glad tidings in human hearts. Certain spiritual attraction is requisite in order that hearts may willingly take the step forward in the divine Cause. We must become attracted to God. The breaths of the Holy Spirit must take effect. Unless this is so, it is impossible for the teachings of God to accomplish in us. An ideal power is necessary. The people of America have remarkably quick perception, intelligence and understanding. Their thoughts are free and not fettered by the yoke of governmental tyranny. They should investigate reality and not be occupied with ancestral forms and imitations. Consider what Christ accomplished. He caused souls to attain a station where with complete willingness and joy they laid down their lives. What a power! Thousands of human souls, in the utmost joy because of their spiritual susceptibilities, were so attracted to God that they were dispossessed of volition, deprived of will in His path. If they had been told simply that sacrifice in the path of God was good and praiseworthy, this would never have happened. They would not have acted. Christ attracted them, wrested the reins of control from them, and they went forth in ecstasy to sacrifice themselves.

Tuesday, August 6, 1912 4

In the morning while pacing back and forth in the drawing room of His residence, the Master said:

“When Persians want to record any important matter, they say, ‘Write this down in the twenty-ninth section.’ Now, as the Persians say, write this in the twenty-ninth section of your book. Whatever occurs is the cause of the elevation of the Word of God and the victory of the divine Cause, even though outwardly it may appear to be a great affliction and hardship. What hardship, grief or affliction could be greater than that which occurred at the time when the Blessed Beauty was exiled from Tihrán? Hearts of stone were melted. All the relatives were weeping and lamenting. All were in utter despair. But that exile became the cause of the raising of the Call and exalting the Word of God, of fulfilling the prophecies of the Prophets and of guiding the people of the world. Had it not been for this exile, these things would not have appeared and these great events would not have occurred.

Consider the case of Abraham. Had He not been exiled, He would not have received that greatest blessing; neither a Jacob nor an Isaac would have risen; the fame of the beauty of Joseph would not have been spread throughout the world. He would not have become the ruler of Egypt; no Moses would have appeared; no Muhammad, the divine Messenger, would have come. All these are a result of the blessings of that exile. It is the same now.”

Later He spoke about the harmful effects of disunity and discord among the emperors of the East and the West:

“For example, the separation between the eastern and western empires and the disagreement between the eastern and western churches in Christianity caused a great weakness. Notwithstanding this, the people still do not take heed.”

In the afternoon He gave a talk on the oneness of the foundation of religion.

’Abdu’l-Bahá in America, 1912-2012: Calling America to It’s Spiritual Destiny

“Whatever occurs is the cause of the elevation of the Word of God and the victory of the divine Cause …”

Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America

Curated by Anne Perry

August 6, 1912


  1. Menon, Morella. “Socialism, Strikes, and Oscar Wilde.” 239 Days in America, 6 Aug. 2012, https://239days.com/2012/08/06/socialism-strikes-and-oscar-wilde/.
  2. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 121.
  3. 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, 250. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/18#978585559
  4. ’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#section135

239 Days in America, Day 117: August 05, 1912 | Dublin

August 5, 1912: The Week Ahead 1

THE QUIET LITTLE TOWN of Dublin, New Hampshire, it turns out, is a crossroads of some of the most controversial discussions in American life. Over the last ten days we’ve looked at Eugenics, the artistic representation of indigenous peoples, and interracial marriage.

In the week ahead, the new Progressive Party convenes for its national convention in Chicago, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá weighs in on materialist philosophy, and a look at “the language of religion.”

New Hampshire 2

On the afternoon of August 5 among the people that crowded to be with Him in Dublin were two ladies who were hard of hearing, They asked the translator if they could sit near ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in order to hear Him with their ear trumpets. Abdu’l-Bahá replied, “‘Yes, the nearer they come, the better they will hear the Words of God… It matters little in what way or be what means they hear it.’”

Talk at Dublin Inn, Dublin, New Hampshire 3

But we ask for things which the divine wisdom does not desire for us, and there is no answer to our prayer. His wisdom does not sanction what we wish. We pray, “O God! Make me wealthy!” If this prayer were universally answered, human affairs would be at a standstill. There would be none left to work in the streets, none to till the soil, none to build, none to run the trains. Therefore, it is evident that it would not be well for us if all prayers were answered. The affairs of the world would be interfered with, energies crippled and progress hindered. But whatever we ask for which is in accord with divine wisdom, God will answer. Assuredly!

Monday, August 5, 1912

Standing on the lawn and facing the green and verdant hills and valleys, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá said:

“How calm it is. No disturbing sound is heard. When a man observes the wafting of the breeze among these trees, he hears the rustling of the leaves and sees the swaying of the trees, it is as though all are praising and acknowledging the one true God.”

Before the afternoon meeting a devoted lady told the Master that one of her friends, when informed that she was planning to attend the meeting, strongly advised her not to go lest she fall into a trap. He said to her:

“It has always been the practice of the heedless to hold back the sincere ones from the Cause of God. As for a trap, praise be to God that we have been trapped happily for sixty years and we have no desire to escape. It is a trap that frees people from the shackles of prejudice and superstitions and delivers them from the prison of self and desire. It makes them the captives of the love of God and of service to the Cause of the oneness of humanity.”

After delivering the message of God and explaining the divine teachings, the Master spoke humorously about the philosophers.

“They say that had there been a spiritual world they would have sensed it. But, as a matter of fact, inability to sense a thing is not a proof of the nonexistence of that thing. If inability to sense constitutes proof of perfection, the cow must be the greatest philosopher, for she does not realize anything beyond the animal world.”

This amusing statement that the cow is the greatest of all philosophers caused everyone to laugh. After the meeting, some men and women invited Him to go for a ride in their automobile. While driving, a herd of cows passed in front of the automobile and, becoming frightened, began to run about every which way. The ladies in the car cried out, ‘Oh Master, see the crowd of philosophers. How frightened they are running away from us.’ ‘Abdu’l-Bahá laughed so heartily that He tired Himself. As the Americans like such jests, it became an oft- repeated remark. 4

’Abdu’l-Bahá in America, 1912-2012: Calling America to It’s Spiritual Destiny

Green and verdant surroundings inspire praises for God

Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America

Curated by Anne Perry

August 5, 1912


  1. Sockett, Robert. “August 5, 1912: The Week Ahead.” 239 Days in America, 5 Aug. 2012, http://stagingtwo39.wpengine.com/2012/08/05/august-5-1912-the-week-ahead/.
  2. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 121.
  3. 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, 247. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/18#294361180
  4. ’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#section134

239 Days in America, Day 116: August 04, 1912 | Dublin

The Challenges of Finding ‘Abdu’l-Bahá 1

THE MOST EXTENSIVE PRIMARY sources for ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s journey across North America in 1912 come with difficult problems. If you were to ask Mahmúd-i-Zarqání how Americans responded to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, you might always get the same answer. They were — almost every one of them — “astonished” at what they saw and heard from the Master. Mahmúd was a devoted follower on unfamiliar terrain in America, who felt the greatest reverence for ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and held him in awe. In his preface he writes that he generally found himself overwhelmed by the events he saw, and in his account he ascribes such wonder to everyone.

Juliet Thompson’s ‘Abdu’l-Bahá is an otherworldly figure whose every look, every slight gesture, is imbued with a magical quality that she flourishes with her own emotions. How close was the real ‘Abdu’l-Bahá to Juliet’s perception of him? It is difficult to say.

Reverend Howard Colby Ives wrote an autobiography of his time with ‘Abdu’l-Bahá called Portals to Freedom. Its pages are filled with turns of phrase that mix metaphors and burst with personal drama, yet he seems deeply sincere and his story often brings one eerily close to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. The scene he paints of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá wiping the tears from his eyes on April 12 at the Hotel Ansonia in New York is so moving that it’s hard not to well up with tears yourself.

Agnes Parsons wrote a nuts-and-bolts diary account of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in Washington and Dublin, full of interesting details but largely free of the romantic aura that surrounds Thompson’s and Ives’s accounts. But Agnes’s social circle constrains her perspective. She hosts ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in her home and plans many of his activities, but when he attends events in Washington with African Americans, you wouldn’t know from her diary that they carried any significance.

Sunday, August 4, 1912 2

When He had finished writing Tablets in response to petitions from the friends in the East and the West, the Master had a little time to rest. He then went for lunch at the home of Miss [Fanny] Knobloch. Her friends and relatives were fascinated with His explanations and enchanted by His manner.

In the afternoon He spoke in Mr and Mrs Parsons’s drawing room about the power of the Cause of Bahá’u’lláh and the assistance and confirmations of the Greatest Name. Mírzá ‘Alí Akbar [Nakhjavání] related that during the troubled times in ‘Akká the Master used to say that a great event would take place in the very near future: it would be as though this lamp would go away and then come back to its original place. Now we understand that this assertion of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was a reference to His travels and His return to the Holy Land. The Master then said:

“The assistance of the Blessed Beauty brings about extraordinary things. Every act of the Blessed Beauty constitutes in itself a consummate proof. In one of my early writings I wrote that in the eyes of the possessors of insight the doings of Him Who is the Sovereign Truth have no equal. For instance, if the Blessed Beauty asked after someone’s health, although outwardly a common expression, it could give to a person who was perceptive hints as to the wisdom and mystery hidden in the words spoken on that occasion. Thus it is that God in all His actions is distinct from all others, just as a wise man displays in all his actions the signs of wisdom.”

There were several people waiting to see Him. Two ladies, both of whom were hard of hearing, requested permission to sit near Him so that they might listen to His words through their hearing aids. He said, ‘Yes, the nearer they come, the better they will hear the Words of God. They must hear the Voice of the Lord in whatever way possible or by whatever means.’

Today, the Master’s talk on the immortality of the soul so impressed the hearts that from then on He was asked to speak on this subject at most of the meetings.

Talk at Fourth Unitarian Church, Beverly Road, Flatbush, Brooklyn, New York, 16 June 1912 3

The unity which is productive of unlimited results is first a unity of mankind which recognizes that all are sheltered beneath the overshadowing glory of the All-Glorious, that all are servants of one God; for all breathe the same atmosphere, live upon the same earth, move beneath the same heavens, receive effulgence from the same sun and are under the protection of one God. This is the most great unity, and its results are lasting if humanity adheres to it; but mankind has hitherto violated it, adhering to sectarian or other limited unities such as racial, patriotic or unity of self-interests; therefore, no great results have been forthcoming. Nevertheless, it is certain that the radiance and favors of God are encompassing, minds have developed, perceptions have become acute, sciences and arts are widespread, and capacity exists for the proclamation and promulgation of the real and ultimate unity of mankind, which will bring forth marvelous results. It will reconcile all religions, make warring nations loving, cause hostile kings to become friendly and bring peace and happiness to the human world. It will cement together the Orient and Occident, remove forever the foundations of war and upraise the ensign of the Most Great Peace. These limited unities are, therefore, signs of that great unity which will make all the human family one by being productive of the attractions of conscience in mankind.

’Abdu’l-Bahá in America, 1912-2012: Calling America to It’s Spiritual Destiny

Each action and word of the Manifestation of God have many meanings – they have no equal

Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America

Curated by Anne Perry

August 4, 1912


  1. Sockett, Robert, and Jonathan Menon. “The Challenges of Finding ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.” 239 Days in America, 4 Aug. 2012, https://239days.com/2012/08/04/the-challenges-of-finding-abdul-baha/.
  2. ’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#section133
  3. 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, 191 https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/14#450919860

239 Days in America, Day 115: August 03, 1912 | Dublin

“Get the Races to Intermarry” 1

IMAGINE, IF YOU WILL, a boathouse of large dimensions, tucked into the trees on the shore of Dublin Lake. Water is lapping at the pylons which support it, rooted into the lake bed. It is built of natural wood and has a dock for the boat to moor. Perhaps there are some chairs or benches and the comforting smell of wood and rope.

It is Saturday, August 4, 1912, and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá is meeting with the servants of the summer residents of Dublin. They are mostly black. Their names will vanish from history because they were never recorded. They are known only by the names of their employers, such as Parsons’ cook and Cabots’ maid.

Now imagine ‘Abdu’l-Bahá making an announcement, and the boathouse going quiet in astonishment.

Louise Mathew had been astonished when he had told her, too. She had first heard about it on the steamer to America, but hadn’t quite grasped what he meant. In fact, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had been planning for this moment for more than two years.

Louise Mathew was born in England to wealthy parents. She did not marry, but instead she enrolled into one of the women’s colleges in Cambridge University, where she studied economics, languages, and voice. She was into middle age before she went on pilgrimage to Alexandria to meet ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. It was here that Louise met Louis Gregory. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had delayed Gregory’s pilgrimage to make sure the two of them arrived at the same time.

New Hampshire 2

While still in the Holy Land, Abdu’l-Bahá, in the presence of Miss Louisa Mathew of England and Mr. Louis G. Gregory, had noted that interracial marriage was a good way to overcome racial differences. On August 3, at a large meeting held near the Dublin River, He spoke of their forthcoming marriage. Mahmúd recorded:

When He mentioned the matrimony of Miss Mathew, a white woman, with Mr. Gregory, a colored man, which was going to take place … in the course of a few days, the white persons were astonished to see the influence of the Cause and the colored ones were pleased. Incidents like this were little less than miracles; in fact the splitting of the moon into two pieces seemed an easier accomplishment in the eyes of the Americans.

Saturday, August 3, 1912 3

While a few of us were discussing the Master’s explanations and the simplicity and decisiveness of His talks, He said to us:

“The explanations must be adapted to the capacity of the hearers and suited to the exigency of the time. Beauty of style, moderation in delivery and suitability of words and meanings are necessary. It is not only a matter of uttering words. In ‘Akká, Mírzá Muhammad-‘Alí would hear me speak and would repeat my words exactly on other occasions but he did not understand that a thousand wisdoms and ingredients other than speech are necessary. In the days of Baghdád and Sulaymáníyyih, Shaykh ‘Abdu’l-Husayn was told that the Blessed Beauty was attracting the Kurds to Himself by quoting Súfí and gnostic terms. This poor Shaykh obtained a copy of the Futúhát-i-Makkíyyih [Conquests of Mecca] and committed its passages to memory. But wherever he quoted them, he saw that none lent an ear to him. He was greatly puzzled as to why people did not listen to him. The Blessed Beauty said, ‘Tell the Shaykh that We are not in the habit of reading the Conquests of Mecca (Futúhát-i-Makkíyyih) but We impart to them the verses of True Civilization. We are not propounding the writings of the Shaykh [Ibn al-‘Arabí], we are propounding the Holy Writ.”

In the afternoon He spoke about how the secondary laws of religions change in every age according to the exigencies of the time and the harmfulness of the materialistic world and the benefit of religion. The meeting ended with a series of sincere questions and answers.

Talk to Theosophical Society, The Kensington, Exeter and Boylston Streets, Boston, Massachusetts, 24 July 1912 4

Consider man while in the state of sleep; it is evident that all his parts and members are at a standstill, are functionless. His eye does not see, his ear does not hear, his feet and hands are motionless; but, nevertheless, he does see in the world of dreams, he does hear, he speaks, he walks, he may even fly in an airplane. Therefore, it becomes evident that though the body be dead, yet the spirit is alive and permanent. Nay, the perceptions may be keener when man’s body is asleep, the flight may be higher, the hearing may be more acute; all the functions are there, and yet the body is at a standstill. Hence it is proof that there is a spirit in the man, and in this spirit there is no distinction as to whether the body be asleep or absolutely dead and dependent. The spirit is not incapacitated by these conditions; it is not bereft of its existence; it is not bereft of its perfections. The proofs are many, innumerable.

These are all rational proofs. Nobody can refute them. As we have shown that there is a spirit and that this spirit is permanent and everlasting, we must strive to learn of it. May you become informed of its power, hasten to render it divine, to have it become sanctified and holy and make it the very light of the world illumining the East and the West.

’Abdu’l-Bahá in America, 1912-2012: Calling America to It’s Spiritual Destiny

The effectiveness of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s Talks

Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America

Curated by Anne Perry

August 3, 1912


  1. Menon, Morella. “‘Get the Races to Intermarry.’” 239 Days in America, 3 Aug. 2012, https://239days.com/2012/08/03/get-the-races-to-intermarry/.
  2. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 120-121.
  3. ’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=6#section132
  4. 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, 243. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/17#732392254

239 Days in America, Day 114: August 02, 1912 | Dublin

Being Black in the Progressive Era 1

LOUIS GREGORY INHALED THE sea air as his ship broke from the shore. He was leaving America, crossing the same throes of the Atlantic his African ancestors had — but Louis Gregory was unchained. It was March 25, 1911, and he was on his way to Alexandria, Egypt, to meet ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. It was here, in the middle of the ocean, Gregory later said, that he finally felt truly “American.”

Shortly after arriving in Alexandria, Louis Gregory met ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. “If it be possible, gather together these two races, black and white, into one assembly,” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá told him, “and put such love into their hearts that they shall not only unite but even intermarry.” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s solution to the American race problem seemed to be far more fundamental than the political deals that had been struck — and had failed — since Reconstruction.

Friday, August 2, 1912

A meeting for blacks was held near Lake Dublin. At this gathering the Master delivered an eloquent address regarding unity and amity between blacks and whites. He spoke of the approaching wedding of Miss [Louisa] Mathew, a white woman, and Mr [Louis] Gregory, a black man, which is to take place shortly in Washington DC. The white people in the audience were astonished to see the influence of the Cause and the blacks were pleased. Incidents like these are little less than miracles; in fact, ‘splitting the moon in half‘ would be an easier accomplishment in the eyes of the Americans. This meeting was full of joy.

The guests rejoiced when the Master returned to Mr and Mrs Parsons’s home. His words made a deep impression. He spoke on the oneness of the basic principles of the religions of God and the unity of His Manifestations. When questioned about Muhammad, the Prophet of God, His proofs were clear and persuasive and his arguments decisive, uplifting every downcast heart. Everyone testified to the convincing nature of His argument and the greatness of this Cause. About Islam some seemed restrained but no one uttered a dissenting word. 2

Talk to Theosophical Society, The Kensington, Exeter and Boylston Streets, Boston, Massachusetts, 24 July 1912 3

When you wish to reflect upon or consider a matter, you consult something within you. You say, shall I do it, or shall I not do it? Is it better to make this journey or abandon it? Whom do you consult? Who is within you deciding this question? Surely there is a distinct power, an intelligent ego. Were it not distinct from your ego, you would not be consulting it. It is greater than the faculty of thought. It is your spirit which teaches you, which advises and decides upon matters. Who is it that interrogates? Who is it that answers? There is no doubt that it is the spirit and that there is no change or transformation in it, for it is not a composition of elements, and anything that is not composed of elements is eternal. Change and transformation are peculiarities of composition. There is no change and transformation in the spirit. In proof of this, the body may become weakened in its members. It may be dismembered, or one of its members may be incapacitated. The whole body may be paralyzed; and yet the mind, the spirit, remains ever the same. The mind decides; the thought is perfect; and yet the hand is withered, the feet have become useless, the spinal column is paralyzed, and there is no muscular movement at all, but the spirit is in the same status. Dismember a healthy man; the spirit is not dismembered. Amputate his feet; his spirit is there. He may become lame; the spirit is not affected. The spirit is ever the same; no change or transformation can you perceive, and because there is no change or transformation, it is everlasting and permanent.

’Abdu’l-Bahá in America, 1912-2012: Calling America to It’s Spiritual Destiny

Need for unity and amity between blacks and whites – announcing upcoming interracial marriage

Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America

Curated by Anne Perry

August 2, 1912


  1. Jones, Caitlin Shayda, and Jonathan Menon. “Being Black in the Progressive Era.” 239 Days in America, 2 Aug. 2012, https://239days.com/2012/08/02/the-ups-and-downs-of-being-black-in-the-progressive-era/.
  2. ’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#section131
  3. 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, 242-243. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/17#722543803

239 Days in America, Day 113: August 01, 1912 | Dublin

Out and About in Dublin 1

IT IS THE AGE of calling cards and formal social visits. Agnes Parsons has called on many people and left many cards in preparation for ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s visit to Dublin.

On ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s second day in Dublin, Agnes takes him on a drive through the village in her carriage, along the Jaffrey Road, through MacVeagh Woods, and then out to the Lake. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and Dr. Fareed, his translator today, stop at the Parsons’ boathouse, while Agnes continues on to the club where she tells the members that her Persian guest has arrived.

On the way home ‘Abdu’l-Bahá makes sure that all bills concerning his stay will be sent to him; he insists on paying his own way in America. Day-Spring has become a home for the seven Persians and some guests, but after a few days ‘Abdu’l-Bahá takes a room down the hill in the village, at the Dublin Inn. Agnes says it’s because he’s not sleeping well in the cooler, windy air; Alice Breed and Dr. Getsinger think he’s tired of being waited on.

Even the children have noticed the man with the long white beard and flowing robes. “The venerable Persian, Abdul Baha,” the Peterborough Transcript writes, “bears so much resemblance to Santa Claus that two little tots begged to take out their go-cart and get it filled with presents from him. They had espied the supposed Santa Claus sitting on the piazza of the Wilcox Inn. . . .”

On the first of August seventy-five people arrive at the Parsons’ to listen to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s afternoon talk. When asked if he finds the people interested, he says: “They are very much alive. In this country an old maid of eighty will want to know all about politics.” In America, it seems, everyone wants to know about everything.

So ‘Abdu’l-Bahá settles in for his three-week stay. Although offers of motor car rides abound, he travels mostly by carriage or he walks. The Cabots, the Pumpellys, the Parmalees, and others invite him for lunch. At one home a cook wishes to hear him speak, so her employer tells her to sit out of sight behind a tree: she is black.

Thursday, August 1, 1912 2

The Master related to us that ‘One hundred years ago there was a school in Baghdád which was held during the summer but it was for the children of the wealthy only. The people of the West have adopted and perfected the customs of the East.’ He also said:

As charitable works become praiseworthy, people often perform them merely for the sake of fame and to gain benefit for themselves, as well as to attract people’s admiration. But this does not render needless the teachings of the Prophets because it is spiritual morals that are the cause of training one’s innate nature and of personal progress. Thus will people offer service to one another with all their hearts for the sake of God and in order to fulfill the duties of devotion to Him and service to humanity and not for the purpose of acquiring praise and fame.

Then He spoke of Mashadí Amír Ghafghazí, a rich man from the Caucasus:

Prior to his embracing this Faith, he was so dauntless and merciless that he had killed countless persons but after embracing this Faith he was entirely transformed, so much so that when once he was fired at by a pistol he did not even raise his arm in self-defense. Such people become educated under the shadow of belief. Similarly, the Bahá’ís of ‘Ishqábád interceded on behalf of a man who had killed one of their members.

At a gathering in the afternoon the Master spoke on the equality of the rights of men and women, the greatness of this cycle, the oneness of the world of humanity and God’s creation. After the meeting several ministers spoke to Him. One was the pastor from the Dublin Unitarian Church who invited the Master to speak at his church.

Talk to Theosophical Society, The Kensington, Exeter and Boylston Streets, Boston, Massachusetts, 24 July 1912 3

All the organisms of material creation are limited to an image or form. That is to say, each created material being is possessed of a form; it cannot possess two forms at the same time. For example, a body may be spherical, triangular or square; but it is impossible for it to be two of these shapes simultaneously. It may be triangular, but if it is to become square, it must first rid itself of the triangular shape. It is absolutely impossible for it to be both at the same time. Therefore, it is evident in the reality of material organisms that different forms cannot be simultaneously possessed. In the spiritual reality of man, however, all geometrical figures can be simultaneously conceived, while in physical realities one image must be forsaken in order that another may be possible. This is the law of change and transformation, and change and transformation are precursors of mortality. Were it not for this change in form, phenomena would be immortal; but because the phenomenal existence is subject to transformation, it is mortal. The reality of man, however, is possessed of all virtues; it is not necessary for him to give up one image for another as mere physical bodies do. Therefore, in that reality there is no change or transformation; it is immortal and everlasting. The body of man may be in America while his spirit is laboring and working in the Far East, discovering, organizing and planning. While occupied in governing, making laws and erecting a building in Russia, his body is still here in America. What is this power which, notwithstanding that it is embodied in America, is operating at the same time in the Orient, organizing, destroying, upbuilding? It is the spirit of man. This is irrefutable.

’Abdu’l-Bahá in America, 1912-2012: Calling America to It’s Spiritual Destiny

Points to keep in mind when undertaking charitable works

Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America

Curated by Anne Perry

August 1, 1912


  1. Menon, Morella. “Out and About in Dublin.” 239 Days in America, 1 Aug. 2012, https://239days.com/2012/08/01/out-and-about-in-dublin/.
  2. ’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#section130
  3. 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, 242. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/17#991205446

239 Days in America, Day 112: July 31, 1912 | Dublin

Abbott Thayer, Father of Camouflage 1

“OH, ABBOTT, DON’T DO that!” George de Forest Brush cried, “DON’T!” He stood in his studio in front of his latest perfectly-rendered masterpiece. Abbott Thayer, as was usual, had come to give his opinion on the work. “George,” he said, “I think that there’s a place on that picture where it would be much better if you lowered the tone of it a little bit.” Abbott had just licked his thumb, rubbed it on the dirty floor, and had raised it to the picture ready to lower its tone.

Abbott Handerson Thayer and Brush were best friends. They had studied together in New York and Paris. Unlike Brush, Abbott did not approve of the paintings of Jean-Léon Gérôme: he considered Gérôme to belong to “that raft of whore painters,” given that Gérôme often painted nudes. Brush was so enamored of his teacher that he named his son Gerome. Abbott, however, named his first son Ralph Waldo.

Ralph Waldo Emerson’s writings inspired Thayer. In Emerson’s 1836 essay, “Nature,” he writes: “I see the spectacle of morning from the hilltop over against my house, from daybreak to sunrise, with emotions which angels might share.” It was a sentiment that defined Emerson’s Transcendentalism: the presence of God as reflected in the everyday displays of nature, a way of thinking that resonated with ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá stood on the lawn near Day-Spring one day, looking at the view over the hills. “When a man observes the wafting of the breeze,” he said, “hears the rustling of the leaves and sees the swaying of the trees, it is as though all are praising and acknowledging the one true God.”

New Hampshire 2

On July 31, at 9:30 A.M., as ‘Abdu’l-Bahá walked to and fro on the veranda of His house talking to George Latimer, Mr. Hannen recorded His words:

The Bahai must first be informed of the principles and Teachings of Baha’o’llah, then go forth and spread the Message. It is like unto a soldier, who must arm himself with the buckler and armor, and then he enters the battlefield to fight against the foe. But if he goes to fight without arming himself, he will be defeated. The Bahais are the Army of God. Their defensive armors or weapons are: First, Faith; second, Assurance; Third, Severance; fourth, Complete Attraction to the Kingdom of Abha. If they are armed with these weapons, they will gain the victory in whatever field they may enter. As long as he is not equipped with these weapons, he will not be successful. He must cut himself entirely from all imitations … 3

Wednesday, July 31, 1912

In the morning the Master went to the [Marienfield] summer school that had been established by Mr [sic] [Charles Hanford] Henderson 20 years ago. It is located some 25 miles from Dublin [Chesham, New Hampshire] and classes are held in tents in a clear, open field. As soon as ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s automobile arrived, the students, between the ages of 12 and 18, surrounded it and enthusiastically welcomed Him. They wore uniforms with knickerbockers and moved about busily but courteously. The headmaster then took ‘Abdu’l-Bahá to the school hall and remained standing while the Master spoke to the students and teachers, praising the school and the good manners of its students. Later He visited each of the student’s tents. Some of the children had cameras and requested permission to take the Master’s photograph. Dr Henderson said that when he had established the school 20 years ago there was not a summer school in the whole of America and now there are hundreds of them. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá remarked: ‘Everything praiseworthy spreads rapidly. But the children must first be taught religion so that they may be sincere and trustworthy.’

After tea and refreshments, the pupils requested permission from the Master to show Him their gymnastic exercises. The Master remained there a long while and spoke at length about education. When it was time to leave, the headmaster and school staff expressed their heartfelt gratitude to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.

At the public meeting in the afternoon at Mr and Mrs Parsons’s home, the Master spoke on spirituality and eternal happiness. 4

Talk to Theosophical Society, The Kensington, Exeter and Boylston Streets, Boston, Massachusetts, 24 July 1912 5

In the physical powers and senses, however, man and the animal are partners. In fact, the animal is often superior to man in sense perception. For instance, the vision of some animals is exceedingly keen and the hearing of others most acute. Consider the instinct of a dog: how much greater than that of man. But, although the animal shares with man all the physical virtues and senses, a spiritual power has been bestowed upon man of which the animal is devoid. This is a proof that there is something in man above and beyond the endowment of the animal—a faculty and virtue peculiar to the human kingdom which is lacking in the lower kingdoms of existence. This is the spirit of man. All these wonderful human accomplishments are due to the efficacy and penetrating power of the spirit of man. If man were bereft of this spirit, none of these accomplishments would have been possible. This is as evident as the sun at midday.

’Abdu’l-Bahá in America, 1912-2012: Calling America to It’s Spiritual Destiny

‘Abdu’l-Bahá visited a summer school and was enthusiastically received by the students

Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America

Curated by Anne Perry

July 31, 1912


  1. Menon, Morella. “Abbott Thayer, Father of Camouflage.” 239 Days in America, 31 July 2012, https://239days.com/2012/07/31/abbott-thayer-father-of-camouflage/.
  2. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 119.
  3. Joseph H. Hannen, “With Abdul-Baha in Dublin, New Hampshire,” Star of the West, 3, no. 11 (Sept. 27, 1912), 5-6.
  4. ’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#section129
  5. 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, 241-242. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/17#650985033