239 Days in America, Day 123: August 11, 1912 | Dublin

On Cows and Materialist Philosophy 1

“THEY SAY THAT HAD there been a spiritual world they would have sensed it,” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá remarked at the Dublin Inn on August 5, 1912. He was talking about modern materialist philosophers. “If inability to sense constitutes proof of perfection,” he joked, “the cow must be the greatest philosopher, for she does not realize anything beyond the animal world.”

Although ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s take on materialist philosophy that day was jovial, he generally treated the subject with great seriousness. The philosophical schools he appeared to be addressing were the materialists of the Enlightenment, the German dialectical materialists of the nineteenth century, and perhaps empiricism and naturalism which were influential in Anglo-American philosophy. …

… On June 9, 1912, at Russell Conwell’s Baptist Temple in Philadelphia, he argued that “There have been two pathways in the world of humanity, one the natural or materialistic, the other the religious or spiritual.” The materialistic, he said, “is the pathway of the animal realm.” “One of the strangest things witnessed is that the materialists of today are proud of their natural instincts and bondage.”

‘Abdu’l-Bahá founded his argument on bold dichotomies between humankind and the natural world: “Nature is inert; man is progressive. Nature has no consciousness; man is endowed with it. . . . Nature is incapable of discovering mysteries or realities, whereas man is especially fitted to do so.” “Man can voluntarily discontinue vices,” he said, “nature has no power to modify the influence of its instincts.” “How strange then it seems that man, notwithstanding his endowment with this ideal power, will descend to a level beneath him.”

New Hampshire 2

On Sunday, August 11, while eating at the home of one of the friends, after He had Spoken in the Dublin Unitarian Church, Abdu’l-Bahá gave answers that were so well worded and so complete that some of the newcomers thought He had written them out beforehand and memorized them.

Sunday, August 11, 1912 3

A glorious meeting was held at the Unitarian Church in Dublin. He went to the church at 11:00 a.m. and as He entered the entire audience rose to its feet. The pastor sang a beautiful song in praise of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. After the preliminary ceremonies, the Master was introduced by the pastor with the utmost reverence and esteem. He then stood and gave a detailed address on the necessity of true education and spiritual power and spoke of the coming of Bahá’u’lláh and His teachings. At the end of His talk He chanted a prayer, His life-giving melodies penetrating the souls and attracting the hearts. A wonderful spirit of humility seemed to permeate the building and the voice of acceptance seemed to issue from all sides.

Many who had not already had the honor of visiting ‘Abdu’l-Bahá came to Him with such eagerness that the Master said, ‘The Call of God has been raised here and the work is finished.’

He was invited for lunch at the home of Mr and Mrs Parmelee. There He was asked about the Cause of God and about the new principles. Although He responded to the questions of those present, still they thought that the talk had been prepared beforehand and that the interpreter had committed it to memory. They felt no one would have been able to speak extemporaneously with such clarity and perception. The vastness of His knowledge is even more evident. My point is that His talk and explanations seemed extraordinary in the eyes of the people and that the unseen confirmations of Bahá’u’lláh assisted the Center of the Covenant.

After this meeting the people’s spirits were raised. In the afternoon a multitude gathered at the home of Mr and Mrs Parsons. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá spoke, encouraging everyone to think about His words, to meditate on the holy verses, to investigate truth and to gain a full knowledge of divine realities. It is merely owing to a lack of understanding among the leaders of religions, He said, and to their blind imitations and superstitions that statements contrary to science and common sense have crept in and caused intellectuals and scientists to deny religion and disputes to arise among the people, obscuring the true meaning of the laws of God.

Talk at Baptist Temple, Broad and Berks Streets, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 9 June 1912

It is evident, therefore, that man is ruler over nature’s sphere and province. Nature is inert; man is progressive. Nature has no consciousness; man is endowed with it. Nature is without volition and acts perforce, whereas man possesses a mighty will. Nature is incapable of discovering mysteries or realities, whereas man is especially fitted to do so. Nature is not in touch with the realm of God; man is attuned to its evidences. Nature is uninformed of God; man is conscious of Him. Man acquires divine virtues; nature is denied them. Man can voluntarily discontinue vices; nature has no power to modify the influence of its instincts. Altogether it is evident that man is more noble and superior, that in him there is an ideal power surpassing nature. He has consciousness, volition, memory, intelligent power, divine attributes and virtues of which nature is completely deprived and bereft; therefore, man is higher and nobler by reason of the ideal and heavenly force latent and manifest in him. 4

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

Clarity, perception and vastness of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s knowledge manifested in His public talks

Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America

Curated by Anne Perry

August 11, 1912


  1. Sockett, Robert. “On Cows and Materialist Philosophy.” 239 Days in America, 11 Aug. 2012, https://239days.com/2012/08/11/cows-the-french-and-materialist-philosophy/.
  2. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 122.
  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#section140
  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, 178 https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/13#850005870

239 Days in America, Day 110: July 29, 1912 | Dublin

July 29, 1912: The Week Ahead 1

The residents and vacationers of Dublin, New Hampshire have awoken to find ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in their midst. Special thanks to our guest writer, Morella Menon, for her feature series covering Dublin, which continues through to August 15.

In the week ahead, profiles of Dublin painters George de Forest Brush and Abbott Thayer, surprising news concerning African American Bahá’í Louis Gregory, and Theodore Roosevelt expels southern black delegates from the party at the Progressive Presidential Convention in Chicago.

Monday, July 29, 1912 2

Sitting on the carpet, the Master spoke about Mr Harmon, saying:

“What captives of superstitions people are! What troubles they endure for the sake of name and fame! What fruit will these superstitions bear? All are transitory and perishable and no trace of them will remain. It will be as through they had never existed. They are sowing seeds in a barren land. Man ought to sow pure seeds in a fertile soil.”

Later in the day He spoke with Mr Harmon for a considerable time. Afterwards He reviewed some letters and prepared them for mailing.

He went to Mrs Parsons’s home in the afternoon. He was asked about His health and the climate, to which He replied:

“The air of this place is good. But we are happy wherever we go; our happiness consists in service to the Most Holy Threshold. We have not come to America on a pleasure trip; we are here to serve the Court of the Blessed Beauty. Whenever we succeed in this purpose, that place is good. A merchant is happy whenever his goods find a market, wherever it may be.”

Then He sat in the gazebo facing the garden and related the afflictions and trials of Bahá’u’lláh in Baghdád:

“In spite of all these troubles we were happy beyond description because under His shadow we were favored with the blessing of attainment to His presence.”

Afterwards He went into the house. The drawing room was filled. His address to the visitors concerned both spiritual and material matters, including questions of economics which corrected some of the false ideas of the socialists. The audience was pleased. Each day a new spirit is seen in the meetings. It is difficult to believe that in this mountainous and scenic countryside, meetings that diffuse the fragrances of God can be held. All this is due to the power of the Center of the Covenant. ‘Wherever our king is, it is Paradise, even if it is as small as the eye of a needle.

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

Just as the animal is more noble than the vegetable and mineral, so man is superior to the animal. The animal is bereft of ideality—that is to say, it is a captive of the world of nature and not in touch with that which lies within and beyond nature; it is without spiritual susceptibilities, deprived of the attractions of consciousness, unconscious of the world of God and incapable of deviating from the law of nature. It is different with man. Man is possessed of the emanations of consciousness; he has perception, ideality and is capable of discovering the mysteries of the universe. All the industries, inventions and facilities surrounding our daily life were at one time hidden secrets of nature, but the reality of man penetrated them and made them subject to his purposes. According to nature’s laws they should have remained latent and hidden; but man, having transcended those laws, discovered these mysteries and brought them out of the plane of the invisible into the realm of the known and visible.

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

Troubles we “endure for the sake of name and fame”

Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America

Curated by Anne Perry

July 29, 1912


  1. Sockett, Robert. “July 29, 1912: The Week Ahead.” 239 Days in America, 29 July 2012, http://stagingtwo39.wpengine.com/2012/07/29/july-29-1912-the-week-ahead/.
  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=5#section127
  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, 240-241. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/17#021884557