239 Days in America, Day 147: September 04, 1912 | Montreal

Economics and Spirituality 1

“THE GREAT QUESTION RAISED by the Socialists was of paramount importance,” the Montreal Daily Star reported ‘Abdu’l-Bahá telling a packed parlor at the Maxwell home at 716 Pine Avenue West, on the evening of September 4, 1912. One night after receiving enthusiastic press coverage of his talk on economics, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá explained that while the Socialists asked the right questions, they were unable to provide society with any permanent settlement to its most important problems.

Unfortunately, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá noted, although the question of economic disparity was of great importance, “the governments of the world had failed to give it the earnest attention it deserved.” In 1912, weak labor laws and the absence of social benefits throughout the industrializing world meant that many members of society lived in conditions of abject poverty. Growing expectations of economic justice had to be met, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá said, “otherwise disorder everywhere would be the culmination.”

In the same way that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s repeated warnings of a catastrophic war in Europe were prescient, so too his 1912 forecasts of widespread social disorder preceded by five years the world’s first Socialist Revolution in Russia. By the late 1910s and early 1920s, labor strife was ubiquitous in industrial societies worldwide.

Montreal 2

As the translations of the newspaper articles concerning His address at the Socialist Club were read to Him on September 4, ’Abdu’l-Bahá said, “‘This is all through the confirmations of the Blessed Beauty. Otherwise even if the King of Persia had come here he would not have been able to attract such meetings.’” …

Abdu’l-Bahá also commented, in discussing the warm reception of His address, “‘The greatness of the Teachings of Bahá’u’lláh will be known when they are practiced. Not one out of a hundred has as yet come into force. The entire trend of your thoughts should be turned towards bringing these blessed Teachings into practice.’”

1 September 1912, Talk at Home of Mr. and Mrs. William Sutherland Maxwell, 716 Pine Avenue West, Montreal, Canada 3

Life is the expression of composition; and death, the expression of decomposition. In the world or kingdom of the minerals certain materials or elemental substances exist. When through the law of creation they enter into composition, a being or organism comes into existence. For example, certain material atoms are brought together, and man is the result. When this composition is destroyed and disintegrated, decomposition takes place; this is mortality, or death. When certain elements are composed, an animal comes into being. When these elements are scattered or decomposed, this is called the death of the animal. Again, certain atoms are bound together by chemical affinity; a composition called a flower appears. When these atoms are dispersed and the composition they have formed is disintegrated, the flower has come to its end; it is dead. Therefore, it is evident that life is the expression of composition, and mortality, or death, is equivalent to decomposition. As the spirit of man is not composed of material elements, it is not subject to decomposition and, therefore, has no death. It is self-evident that the human spirit is simple, single and not composed in order that it may come to immortality, and it is a philosophical axiom that the individual or indivisible atom is indestructible. At most, it passes through a process of construction and reconstruction. For example, these individual atoms are brought together in a composition, and through this composition a given organism—such as a man, an animal or a plant—is created. When this composition is decomposed, that created organism is brought to an end, but the component atoms are not annihilated; they continue to exist because they are single, individual and not composed. Therefore, it may be said that these individual atoms are eternal. Likewise, the human spirit, inasmuch as it is not composed of individual elements or atoms—as it is sanctified above these elements—is eternal. This is a self-evident proof of its immortality.

Wednesday, September 4, 1912 4

An account of the Master’s talk at the Socialist Club and its influence was published in glowing terms in the newspapers. The force of His explanations and the persuasiveness of His proofs were the talk of the day. Many newcomers came to visit Him. The friends told the Master how happy they were to see the extent to which the Cause of God had penetrated the hearts. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá said in reply:

“The greatness of the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh will be known when they are acted upon and practiced. Not one of a hundred has as yet come into force. All of your thoughts should be turned toward bringing these blessed teachings into practice.”

When the translations of some of the newspaper articles were read to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, He said, again, ‘This is all through the confirmations of the Blessed Beauty. Otherwise, even if the king of Persia had come here he would not have been able to bring about even one such meeting.’ In the afternoon, for a change of routine, the Master took the elevator down from the seventh floor and went for an automobile ride to the foot of a mountain outside the city limits. It is a fine place where people go for recreation. It has a cable car, which took the Master and His companions up the mountain. The side of the mountain was perpendicular like a wall. The Master said, ‘This cable car is like a balloon flying in the air.’ It made one nervous to look down. When we reached the top, the Master walked around. It was a magnificent sight, with a view of the whole city stretched before us. The canals, streets and orchards of the town were below. It appeared as if a beautifully painted picture had been spread before one’s eyes.

While we were here, translations of other accounts of the meetings that had been published in the evening newspapers were read to Him. Suddenly He cried out:

“O Bahá’u’lláh! May I be a sacrifice for Thee. O Bahá’u’lláh! May my life be offered up for Thee. Thou hast spoken the Word which cannot be refuted. What a wonderful Cause Thou hast founded! It satisfies every assemblage! Each group testifies to its greatness. In the churches it shakes the souls; it excites the Theosophists; it imparts spirituality to the spiritualists; it makes the Unitarians aware of the reality of unity; it makes the socialists contented and grateful and inspires joy and happiness in the peace meetings. There is no refuge for any denomination except in submission to it. It is a miracle! It is the greatest force in the world of existence. This is all through the assistance of the Blessed Beauty. If healing the lame and crippled is a miracle, it can also be produced by a dose of medicine. This is no great achievement.”

From here the Master and His companions went to the home of Mr and Mrs Maxwell where letters from the East were given to Him. He read the petitions of the friends. Among them was a letter from Mírzá Haydar-‘Alí, in which he dwelt on the greatness and significance of the journey of the Master. The Master said:

“Yes, the value and greatness of these travels are not known now but will be apparent later on. As we had no other intention except to offer devotion to the Threshold of the One True God, we were assisted and the brightness of divine favor and grace appeared.”

Continuing, He said:

“At the time of Muhammad’s migration to Medina under divine protection, Abú Bakr, was with Him. He said to Abú Bakr, ‘Be not afraid, God is with us.’ These very words became afterwards the cause of his succession to the Caliphate because the word ‘with us’ included him also. Many proofs and arguments based on these words have been advanced. The value of this bounty, too, is not known now.”

At a meeting in the evening at Mrs Maxwell’s home, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá gave an address on spiritual brotherhood and the economic principles upheld by the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh which will be the cause of the salvation, prosperity and liberation of the nations of the world. This meeting was very special because the Master’s talk was so influential. The audience was invited to light refreshments of sweets and beverages. Among the guests were Americans, as well as Turks and Arabs clothed in their splendid robes, all of whom were attracted to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and fascinated by His demeanor and words.

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

Our thoughts should be turned toward bringing the blessed teachings of Bahá’u’lláh into practice

Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America

Curated by Anne Perry

September 4, 1912


  1. Michel, Tony. “Economics and Spirituality.” 239 Days in America, 4 Sept. 2012, https://239days.com/2012/09/04/economics-and-spirituality/.
  2. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 134-136.
  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, 306. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/22#066994489
  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=7#section164

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 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