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 85: July 04, 1912 | New York

Happy Fourth of July! 1

“THERE WERE CELEBRATIONS EVERYWHERE,” Mahmúd wrote on July 4, in his chronicle of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s trip to America.

Mahmúd-i-Zarqání had traveled to America with ‘Abdu’l-Bahá on the Cedric from Egypt, and accompanied him on his journey across the country as one of his secretaries. On July 4, 1912, Mahmúd was about to get his first taste of a good old-fashioned American celebration: a Fourth of July parade in New York.

New York Mayor William J. Gaynor had sent ‘Abdu’l-Bahá an invitation the week before while he was still in Montclair, New Jersey. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, who was recovering from exhaustion, replied that he would come if time permitted. His schedule in America involved periods of intense activity where he greeted guests from 7:00 a.m. to well after midnight, or spoke at five gatherings in a single day, alternating with shorter periods of rest. He didn’t say yes to every invitation.

New York City 2

And then came July 4. The mayor of New York asked Abdu’l-Bahá to be with him on the parade reviewing stand. Abdu’l-Bahá did not go, but sent the other Persian friends to represent Him.

After an evening meal in Abdu’l-Bahá’s house honoring the birthday of Juliet Thompson’s mother, the Master spoke of tests. “Even the sword is no test to the Persian believers. They are given a chance to recant they cry out instead: ‘Ya Bahá’u’l-Abhá!’ Then the sword is raised. They cry out all the more, ‘Ya Bahá’u’l-Abhá!’ But some of the people here are tested if I don’t say, ‘How do you do.’” 3

Thursday, July 4, 1912

A number of people met ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in the morning. He spoke to them about divine knowledge and the spiritual stations which lead to eternal life — the ultimate goal of human existence. A black youth was there, to whom the Master gave the name ‘Mubárak’ [’happy’], and to a black woman He gave the name ‘Khush Ghadam’ [a person who brings good fortune, welcome news, good omen]. He spoke to them about the importance of harmony between the white and black races of America and described the various meetings attended by both blacks and whites and the talks given at them which dealt with this question.

Mrs Kaufman asked about the influence of heavenly bodies on the affairs of humanity. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá replied:

The words of the astrologers are for the most part doubtful and unreliable. But the whole of creation is interrelated like the different parts of the human body which have a complete affinity from the toenail to the hair on the head. Every part is perfectly connected with the other. Similarly, the whole of creation forms a chain composed, as it were, of many links connected with each other. It is therefore obvious that they all greatly influence each other and are part of organized, regular cycles.

He was then asked about the connection between the soul and the body. He replied, ‘It has the same connection as the sun has with the mirror. Death consists of the severance of this connection.’

‘Some say that your prayers and promises for us have come true and are being completely fulfilled.’

‘I always pray with complete self-effacement and humbly implore confirmations from the Kingdom of Abhá.’

‘Do you feel the excessive heat? Does it affect your health?’

‘I am so absorbed that I feel neither the heat nor the cold. It is all the same to me.’

Today the Master was occupied in revealing Tablets for the Eastern friends. Notwithstanding the heavy pressure of work, He does not delay His answers to important questions.

There was a large crowd in the evening to whom He spoke about the various kingdoms of creation and the virtues of the world of existence. After the meeting several seekers visited the Master in His room. He answered their questions regarding the stations of divinity and the journey in the path of knowledge and servitude. Everyone was pleased and delighted and joined us in offering praise and glory to God. 4

Talk at Fourth Annual Conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Handel Hall, Chicago, Illinois, 30 April 1912

Each kingdom of creation is endowed with its necessary complement of attributes and powers. The mineral possesses inherent virtues of its own kingdom in the scale of existence. The vegetable possesses the qualities of the mineral plus an augmentative virtue, or power of growth. The animal is endowed with the virtues of both the mineral and vegetable plane plus the power of intellect. The human kingdom is replete with the perfections of all the kingdoms below it with the addition of powers peculiar to man alone. Man is, therefore, superior to all the creatures below him, the loftiest and most glorious being of creation. Man is the microcosm; and the infinite universe, the macrocosm. The mysteries of the greater world, or macrocosm, are expressed or revealed in the lesser world, the microcosm. The tree, so to speak, is the greater world, and the seed in its relation to the tree is the lesser world. But the whole of the great tree is potentially latent and hidden in the little seed. When this seed is planted and cultivated, the tree is revealed. Likewise, the greater world, the macrocosm, is latent and miniatured in the lesser world, or microcosm, of man. This constitutes the universality or perfection of virtues potential in mankind. Therefore, it is said that man has been created in the image and likeness of God.

Let us now discover more specifically how he is the image and likeness of God and what is the standard or criterion by which he can be measured and estimated. This standard can be no other than the divine virtues which are revealed in him. Therefore, every man imbued with divine qualities, who reflects heavenly moralities and perfections, who is the expression of ideal and praiseworthy attributes, is, verily, in the image and likeness of God. If a man possesses wealth, can we call him an image and likeness of God? Or is human honor and notoriety the criterion of divine nearness? Can we apply the test of racial color and say that man of a certain hue—white, black, brown, yellow, red—is the true image of his Creator? We must conclude that color is not the standard and estimate of judgment and that it is of no importance, for color is accidental in nature. The spirit and intelligence of man is essential, and that is the manifestation of divine virtues, the merciful bestowals of God, the eternal life and baptism through the Holy Spirit. Therefore, be it known that color or race is of no importance. He who is the image and likeness of God, who is the manifestation of the bestowals of God, is acceptable at the threshold of God—whether his color be white, black or brown; it matters not. Man is not man simply because of bodily attributes. The standard of divine measure and judgment is his intelligence and spirit.

Therefore, let this be the only criterion and estimate, for this is the image and likeness of God. A man’s heart may be pure and white though his outer skin be black; or his heart be dark and sinful though his racial color is white. The character and purity of the heart is of all importance. The heart illumined by the light of God is nearest and dearest to God, and inasmuch as God has endowed man with such favor that he is called the image of God, this is truly a supreme perfection of attainment, a divine station which is not to be sacrificed by the mere accident of color. 5

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

‘Abdu’l-Bahá showers Juliet’s mother with kindness on her birthday

Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America

Curated by Anne Perry

July 04, 1912


  1. Jones, Caitlin Shayda. “Happy Fourth of July!” 239 Days in America, 4 July 2012, https://239days.com/2012/07/04/on-the-fourth-of-july/.
  2. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 108.
  3. Thompson, Juliet. The Diary of Juliet Thompson. Edited by Marzieh Gail. 1st ed. 1947. Reprint, Los Angeles: Kalimát Press, 1983, 326-327. https://archive.org/details/diaryofjuliettho0000thom/page/326/mode/2up.
  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#section102
  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, 69-70. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/4#517138722

239 Days in America, Day 69: June 18, 1912 | New York

The Pursuit of Happiness 1

‘“ARE YOU HAPPY?”

‘Abdu’l-Bahá was known to spring this disarming question on unsuspecting Americans. They had agreed to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” when declaring their independence from rainy England. Happiness, it seemed, was an important instrument in ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s repertoire.

On June 19, 1912, he tried it out again in New York. Mrs. Hinkle Smith came from a well-off family in Philadelphia. Her husband, William Hinkle Smith, was the director of a large copper mining outfit. When she first met ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, she had asked him to give her a Persian name. He called her Tábandih, which means “Light-Giver.”

Today she had a headache.

After suggesting a particular type of medicine, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá offered an additional remedy. “You must always be happy,” he said. “You must associate with joyous and happy people . . . . Happiness has a direct influence in preserving our health, while being upset causes illness.” 2

But ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s philosophy on happiness ran deeper than platitudes or sentimentality. “The basis of eternal happiness,” he said, “is spirituality and divine virtue, which is not followed by sorrow. But physical happiness is subject to a thousand changes and vicissitudes.”

Talk at 309 West Seventy-eighth Street, New York 3

No matter how much the world of humanity advances in material civilization, it is nevertheless in need of the spiritual development mentioned in the Gospel. The virtues of the material world are limited, whereas divine virtues are unlimited. Inasmuch as material virtues are limited, man’s need of the perfections of the divine world is unlimited.

Throughout human history we find that although the very apex of human virtues has been reached at various times, yet they were limited, whereas divine attainments have ever been unbounded and infinite. The limited is ever in need of the unlimited. The material must be correlated with the spiritual. The material may be likened to the body, but divine virtues are the breathings of the Holy Spirit itself. The body without spirit is not capable of real accomplishment. Although it may be in the utmost condition of beauty and excellence, it is, nevertheless, in need of the spirit. The chimney of the lamp, no matter how polished and perfect it be, is in need of the light. Without the light, the lamp or candle is not illuminating. Without the spirit, the body is not productive. The teacher of material principles is limited. The philosophers who claimed to be the educators of mankind were at most only able to train themselves. If they educated others, it was within a restricted circle; they failed to bestow general education and development. This has been conferred upon humanity by the power of the Holy Spirit.

New York, Philadelphia, New York 4

Tuesday [June 18] was the day of movie-making. Previously, a motion-picture company had filmed ‘Abdu’l-Bahá at the entrance of the Hotel Ansonia for national distribution. This gave the Bahá’ís the idea of making a more extensive film. On June 18, at the home of Mr. MacNutt, five different sequences were photographed. After that Mahmúd noted, “He went to see a Jewish friend who was ill at his home, which was forty miles from Brooklyn, He returned exhausted at night to New York.

Tuesday, June 18, 1912

At a public meeting ‘Abdu’l-Bahá again spoke on the “Tablet of the Branch,” His talk centering around the Covenant and its promise. After the meeting, many pleaded for a private interview and continued visiting Him until noon.

Today He received the manuscript of The Brilliant Proof written by Mírzá Abu’l-Fadl, which had been written in answer to the objections of a minister in London. Being pleased with the book, the Master instructed that it be translated and published.

He also spoke of the malice, mischief and misdeeds of the Azalis.

In the afternoon several friends visited and described the picturesque scenery and interesting places of America. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá said:

We love meetings of fidelity and not picturesque scenes. We must first be faithful to God, to His ordinances and Covenant and to His servants. If we wish to see places of interest and picturesque scenes, we do so when we go visiting or when we pass through such places and scenes.

Sometimes during these days ‘Abdu’l-Bahá would evince a mood similar to that He had when He was staying in Egypt, when He wished for martyrdom, desiring to be sacrificed at the Threshold of God. Among the many Tablets revealed at this time was one in honor of Áqá Ridáy-i-Shírází, Qannád, who had recently ascended to the Abhá Kingdom. Some of the verses of the Tablet were on this same theme:

Fidelity demands roaming over deserts and mountains. True fidelity is attained when a wanderer, nameless and traceless, becomes a target for the arrows of oppression on the plain of martyrdom. O Lord! Ordain for Thy servant the realization of his utmost wish, this bounty which shines resplendent upon the horizon of fidelity, like unto the sun arisen at dawn. One request I have to put to the loved ones of Bahá, that they prostrate themselves before the holy threshold, lay their heads on the ground and ask that the sinful ‘Abdu’l-Bahá be granted the cup of immolation, so that he may, in servitude to the threshold of Bahá, taste the sweet savor of a drop from the ocean of fidelity. 5

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

Stories about ‘Abdu’l-Bahá — Service …

Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America

Curated by Anne Perry

June 18, 1912 The Filming of Abdu’l-Baha


  1. Jones, Caitlin Shayda. “The Pursuit of Happiness.” 239 Days in America, 18 June 2012, https://239days.com/2012/06/18/the-pursuit-of-happiness/.
  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=4#section87
  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, 205-206. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/14#975580776
  4. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 91.
  5. ’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=4#section86