239 Days in America, Day 238: December 04, 1912 | New York

At Home in America 1

BEFORE HE EVEN STEPPED off the ship, reporter Wendell Phillips Dodge had tried to peg him as a “Wise Man Out of the East.” Nixola Greeley-Smith, a columnist for the New York World, joked about his “regulation prophet’s whiskers,” adding to a chorus of early coverage that struggled to come to terms with the “exotic Easterner” in their midst. Yet quite quickly, America’s press realized that there was much more to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. The Evening Mail’s editorial page commented on “the strange anomaly of an oriental mystic who believes in woman suffrage and modern development,” noting that he was “as much at home on Broadway, in New York, as he was in the lonely cell at Acre.” …

On his final night in America, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá spoke to the Theosophical Society in New York. He argued that the universe had a purpose — perhaps the type of talk Americans had expected of him when he first arrived. Then he told them that narrow religious dogma had no place in the modern age, and that humankind must transcend its lower nature, mired in jealousy, hypocrisy, greed, and injustice, and cultivate a world of justice, sincerity, faithfulness, and mercy. And then he said goodbye.

“I have traveled to all the large cities,” he said, “speaking before various assemblages, proclaiming to them the oneness of the world of humanity, summoning all to union, harmony and oneness. I have indeed received the greatest kindness from the American people. I look upon them as a noble nation, capable of every perfection.” Tomorrow, he would leave for Europe. “My happiness is great,” he told them. “I shall never forget you.”

Final Days in America: New York City 2

On December 4, Abdu’l-Bahá continued to talk with the streams of visitors. That night He addressed the Theosophical Society of New York, saying in conclusion:

“For nine months I have been touring in America, calling the people to the oneness of humanity. I have delivered addresses in large churches and worshiping places of many cities, having invited the people to the love and unity of mankind. …

“Since I shall leave your shores tomorrow, I bid you good-bye. I pray that divine confirmations, heavenly honor, and eternal life be given to you so that you may reach the highest station of the world of man. I am grateful to you and shall never forget you. I shall ever supplicate to the Court of God and beef divine assistance and heavenly bounty for you.”

Wednesday, December 04, 1912 3

Among the new seekers who met the Master today was a rabbi to whom the Master spoke extensively about the Torah, saying:

“The verse ‘God created heaven and earth in six days’ has reference to the Day of God and the spiritual creation, for there was no day or night before the creation of this heaven and earth. And the meaning of ‘the water’ in the verse of the Torah ‘The spirit of God moved upon the face of the water like a bird’ is the water of knowledge which is the source of heavenly life. It is written that God said, ‘Let us make man in our image’; this means in the image of divine names and attributes, for God is holy above all physical images and is pure and sanctified above all forms or likenesses.”

Elucidating further the nature of biblical language and the mysteries of the holy books, He explained the signs and prophecies regarding the promised Manifestation. The rabbi was impressed and acknowledged the Master’s insight.

Later some prominent people, including professors, came to meet ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. They told him about Professor Colombo who had written an article about the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár near Chicago in which he referred to the contributions of the Eastern Bahá’ís towards its construction as one of the indications of the greatness of the Cause. The Master spoke with them about the dogmas and blind imitations of the priests and the superstitions of the religious leaders.

At the Kinney’s home in the afternoon, a number of Mr Kinney’s students met the Master. Some came during the meeting and others after it. The Master spoke to them about understanding the holy Book:

“The object of reading and reciting is to understand the inner significance of the verses and mysteries of the Book. Had reading sufficed, all the Jewish people should have acknowledged Christ but as they lacked understanding of the mysteries and the inner meanings, they were deprived of the bounty of believing in Him. They interpreted the book in a literal or outward manner and did not find the appearance of Christ to conform to their traditions, imitations and the prevailing customs of their people, so they denied and rejected Him. Hence, they remained heedless and ignorant of divine realities and mysteries.”

This evening there was a large gathering at the Theosophical Society of New York. The subject of the Master’s address was ‘The Eternity of God’s Kingdom’: material existence, the betterment of the world through the divine favors, the guidance provided by the Manifestations of God and their reflection upon the world of creation. ‘This is the law of God, and thou shalt not find any change in it.‘ This is a translation of the Master’s address:

“He is God! Those who are uninformed of the world of reality, and do not study created things, cannot investigate and discover hidden truths. They only have a superficial idea of things, are embodiments of ignorance and blind imitators. They believe that which they have heard from their fathers and do not have any knowledge or understanding of their own and are bereft of hearing and insight. They rely on traditions and tales and follow the path of their ancestors. They imagine that God’s dominion is accidental, that this world has existed for but six thousand or eight thousand years and that before that time God had neither creation nor sovereignty.

“Should this notion be accepted, then, the Lord forbid, the Divine Reality is to be regarded as accidental, not eternal, whereas as long as there was God, He must have had a creation; as long as there was light, there must have been recipients of that light, because light cannot become manifest without illumining its recipients. So likewise without a creation, the existence of the Creator cannot be proven.

“The Divine Reality presupposes a creation, the All-Provider presupposes a recipient of His bounty. To imagine a God without His creatures is like imagining a king without a country and a people. A king must have a kingdom. Could there be a king without a country and subjects? It is an impossibility. If there had been a time when there were no country and no army, how could we say there was a king at that time? Thus he must have had his people. Thus, as the Divine Eternity is infinite, His creation is also without beginning and without end. From everlasting God was the Creator, the All-Provider, the Quickener and the Bestower. There was no time when His attributes did not express themselves. Cessation is wholly inconceivable. The sun is the sun because of its light and heat. If we conceive the cessation of heat and light, we predicate the non-existence of the sun. If it had no light and no heat, it was not the sun. Likewise, when we say that at one time God had no creation and no recipient of His grace, we assert that there was no Creator. This is denying the eternity of the Divine Entity and regarding Him as an accidental being. It is obvious that this endless universe, this mighty handiwork of God, this vast firmament, these gigantic globes are not merely six or seven thousand years old. They are ancient. The reference in the Torah to six thousand years has an inner meaning and should not be taken literally. It is stated that God created the heavens and the earth in six days. If before such a creation there was no sun, no east and no west, how was it possible to determine the length of each day without the existence of a sun? Thus the statement has a different meaning.

“The sovereignty of God is eternal and not accidental. His creation, His Kingdom, His Army are coexistent and will continue as such. The bestowals and bounties of God are constant and are uninterrupted. Like the light and heat of the sun, they have no cessation. The holy Manifestations of God, Who are the dawning places of divine bounties, have ever been and shall ever be. The wisdom and purpose of their appearance is to cause the image and likeness of God to appear in the world of man.

“The reality of man possesses two aspects: one being the image and likeness of God and the other is the material and satanic aspect. Besides the physical body, man has a reality which is called the spiritual body, or the heavenly creation or form. When man says, ‘I saw’, who is it that says ‘I saw’? Clearly it is something besides the physical body. When one thinks, it is like consulting with oneself. It is clear that there is a second entity which is being consulted. It is not the physical body that advises man ‘to do’ or ‘not to do’ a thing and informs him whether it is profitable or harmful.

“Frequently a person firmly decides on a course of action, but later, upon some reflection, changes his mind. The reason is that he has consulted a reality, has become aware of the harm involved and has changed his former decision.

“In addition to this, man journeys in the world of dreams. Though the body is here, the soul wanders in the East and West of the world. Who is it that makes these journeys? It is the second entity. Although a man has died and his body is under the earth, one’s soul can, in a dream, ask him questions and receive answers. What is it that is talked to? It is the second reality. Hence, it is clear that besides the physical body man possesses another reality. Though the body grows weak, becomes fat or defective, still that reality remains unaltered. In sleep the body of man appears dead but that reality moves, understands, talks and discovers. This reality is the spiritual form and the heavenly temple, not the physical body. It reveals hidden realities, comprehends things, discovers arts and sciences, subdues electricity and other forces and communicates simultaneously with the East and the West. Plainly it is not the body. If it had been the body, similar powers and perfections should have existed in animals, for they share our physical powers. Hence, it is the second reality that reveals hidden realities, permeates the universe, becomes informed of mysteries, leads to the Kingdom and is a guide to the people of the world. It is this reality that distinguishes man from the animal. But this reality is in a state between the divine world and that of the animal. If spiritual forces prevail, this human reality becomes the noblest of all creatures and the possessor of the image and likeness of God; but if the animal aspect predominates, man becomes lower than animals because in man, animal desires and passions are even stronger and more harmful. For instance, anger, lust, struggle for existence, war, contention, fraud, deception, greed and avarice are among the imperfections of man but the necessary qualities in animals. A crafty man without spiritual education is as the fox. In the animal we find covetousness, aggression and passion. These qualities are also in man. Since the reality of man is comprehensive, his expression of these animal qualities is more vehement. They are among the exigencies of the world of nature and lead to the gloom of imperfections. They are the cause of utter degradation and misfortune.

“On the other hand, man is the repository of divine perfections and heavenly favors that bring him eternal happiness and everlasting honor. Such perfections as justice, fidelity, truthfulness, purity, wisdom, piety, mercy, bounty, love, amity, nobility and sagacity enable man to comprehend the realities of things and unfold hidden mysteries. Human reality is therefore between light and darkness and has a threefold nature: the heavenly, the human and the physical. The physical condition is darkness upon darkness and the source of trouble, disgrace, discord, bloodshed and war. The heavenly condition, however, which is the zenith of the human aspect of man’s nature, is light upon light and the means of acquiring everlasting prosperity, peace and tranquillity, honor and glory.

“The holy divine Manifestations have appeared to make it easy to replace the gloom of animality with the lights of heavenly qualities and to change the imperfections of the world of nature to the perfections of the spirit so that the heavenly aspect may prevail, the image and likeness of God may appear in the world of man and the divine illumination and spiritual virtues may become manifest. These holy dawning places are the Educators of the world of existence and the Teachers of man. They deliver human beings from the darkness of error and heedlessness and the defects and vices of nature and lead them to the realm of spiritual virtues and heavenly perfections. Those who are ignorant become wise, those who are like animals attain human perfections, the rapacious become angelic, the tyrannical and proud become just and humble, so that earthly man becomes heavenly, the human is changed into the divine, the suckling child attains its maturity and the poor and abased attain wealth and glory. If the holy Manifestations had not appeared, all humanity would have remained in a state of animality, if not worse. If the children are not educated and are not trained in schools, they will remain ignorant. If plains and hills are left to their natural state, they will turn into jungles and forests which will not bear sweet and luscious fruit, but when the gardener takes control, flowers bloom, fruits appear and prosperity sheds its blessings. Creation is a dreary forest full of thorns under the yoke of nature and the holy Manifestations are the divine gardeners and the supreme educators of the world of man who come to promote the progress of the world of existence in order that the trees of beings may continue to be verdant, may burst into fresh foliage, may yield good fruits and may adorn the gardens of the human realities. This divine bestowal of this heavenly education is continuous.

“It is impossible that this great bounty should cease, that this divine bestowal should end and that the Sun of Reality should sink forever into a setting not followed by a sunrise, a death not followed by a revival. How can the Sun of Reality, shining from the divine world, remain set forever and be precluded from educating the world of existence? No, by God! The function of the sun is to give illumination. How can it set forever and its effulgence brought to an end? Its bounty is eternal, its luster is ever manifest, its rays are perpetually radiant, its breezes are continually wafting and its bestowals are ever apparent. We must be expectant and hopeful, turning our gaze in the direction of His bountiful Kingdom that through the appearance of these holy Manifestations humanity may attain the blessings of the All-Glorious, that the earth be changed and the contingent world may become a garden and a paradise of delight. But the appearance of the divine Manifestation must take place in the most perfect form and invested with unparalleled powers and virtues. With a divine influence and heavenly mighty He must be exalted above all else and peerless in all His attributes, just as the sun is exalted above other stars. Though every star and planet shines in its place and gives light in the night, the sun has another splendor and its radiance is greater. The Manifestation of the bounty of God must also be like the physical sun so that the world may be convinced that He is a divine Teacher, an Educator of the world of man, a sun of reality and the brightest Light shining from the realm on high. His effulgence and influence must be inherent and not acquired from other human beings, otherwise we would say that others imparted such powers to Him. How can a man, who is educated by other human beings, become the educator of humanity at large? The Manifestations of the bounty of God must be self-subsistent, not under the shadow of others. He must be an educator, not educated by others. He must be perfect, not deficient. He must be independent of all, not dependent on training by others. He must combine in Himself all perfections, unrestricted by human limitations, so that He may be able to educate humanity, dispel the gloom of ignorance, through divine power change the world, bring about universal peace, establish the oneness of humanity and unite the diverse religions. I hope that the divine bounties and blessings may shine brightly so that the lights of the Sun of Reality may give luster to our eyes, illumination to our hearts and joy to our souls and may ennoble our thoughts and grant us eternal life. Then we may attain to the apex of the world of man.

“For nine months I have been touring America, calling the people to the oneness of humanity. I have delivered addresses in churches and large assemblies in many cities, inviting the people to the oneness of mankind and to love and unity. The people of America extended a cordial welcome to me. In fact, Americans are a noble nation, with capacity to acquire every virtue and investigate every truth.

“Since I shall leave your shores tomorrow, I bid you farewell. I pray that divine confirmations, heavenly glory and eternal life may be granted to you, so that you may reach the highest pinnacles of the world of man. I am most grateful to you and shall never forget you. I shall ever supplicate at the court of the Almighty and beg divine assistance and heavenly bounty for you.”

The Master’s talk enthused the audience and one by one they came to Him to express their sincere thanks and admiration. When they were told of His imminent departure, they became downcast. It was astonishing to witness the deep sorrow of the friends and the lamentation of their hearts as they contemplated their separation from Him.

Talk to Theosophical Society, 2228 Broadway, New York 4

As we have before indicated, this human reality stands between the higher and the lower in man, between the world of the animal and the world of Divinity. When the animal proclivity in man becomes predominant, he sinks even lower than the brute. When the heavenly powers are triumphant in his nature, he becomes the noblest and most superior being in the world of creation. All the imperfections found in the animal are found in man. In him there is antagonism, hatred and selfish struggle for existence; in his nature lurk jealousy, revenge, ferocity, cunning, hypocrisy, greed, injustice and tyranny. So to speak, the reality of man is clad in the outer garment of the animal, the habiliments of the world of nature, the world of darkness, imperfections and unlimited baseness.

On the other hand, we find in him justice, sincerity, faithfulness, knowledge, wisdom, illumination, mercy and pity, coupled with intellect, comprehension, the power to grasp the realities of things and the ability to penetrate the truths of existence. All these great perfections are to be found in man. Therefore, we say that man is a reality which stands between light and darkness. From this standpoint his nature is threefold: animal, human and divine. The animal nature is darkness; the heavenly is light in light.

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

Elucidating certain passages of the Bible

Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America

Curated by Anne Perry

December 4, 1912


  1. Sockett, Robert. “At Home in America.” 239 Days in America, 4 Dec. 2012, https://239days.com/2012/12/04/at-home-in-america/.
  2. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 193.
  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=10#section256
  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, 465. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/33#049738900

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 111: July 30, 1912 | Dublin

George de Forest Brush, “Lover of Indians” 1

A FIRE BURNED IN a clearing a few steps from the house on Brush Farm. A chair tottered on top, as the flames licked its legs. It cracked and gently succumbed to the heat.

They never knew on Brush Farm when George de Forest Brush would go on a rampage through the house checking for furniture with lathe-turned legs, to see if it had been made by machine. If it was, then out it went to the bonfire. “No machinery can do joyful work,” he believed. “The really useful things,” he said, “are made ugly by machinery and only the few things of life are beautiful.”

Brush’s daughter, Nancy [Douglas Bowditch], wrote in her memoirs that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá asked Mrs. Parsons to explain Bahá’u’lláh to Brush. But ‘Abdu’l-Bahá also told her that Brush would laugh at her. Everything Agnes Parsons did was high Washington society, dressed to the nines, stiff and formal with her strong Southern accent. Here in Dublin folks were more relaxed, especially the easy-going artists.

Tuesday, July 30, 1912 2

Mírzá ‘Alí Akbar Nakhjavání remarked that the enthusiasm of the people was due to the power of the Covenant and the influence of the Master’s words. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá replied: ‘It is not due to my power but to my Father’s; it is all His work.’ Today He invited both Eastern and Western friends to be His guests. Some stayed in His house while others were given accommodation at the hotel located in the warmer climate at the bottom of the mountain. The guests came to the hotel every morning to visit Him. Meetings were held in the afternoon at the home of Mr and Mrs Parsons. The audience of prominent persons was fascinated by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and His qualities. Several people invited the Master to their homes.

In His talk in the afternoon at Mrs Parsons’s home He made clear that:

“Confirmation is not dependent on talent, knowledge or wisdom. Many unimportant persons have made significant discoveries. Many people labored for years to explore the North Pole but Admiral Peary reached it. One’s efforts should be focussed on the object of one’s quest. Because Columbus found confirmation, he discovered America with a minimum of difficulty. The disciples of Christ were apparently abased, yet they achieved something which Napoleon never did: they changed the whole aspect of the world. So it is evident that everything comes about through the assistance of God.”

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

How wonderful is the spirit of man! One of the mysteries of natural phenomena is electricity. Man has discovered this illimitable power and made it captive to his uses. How many of nature’s secrets have been penetrated and revealed! Columbus, while in Spain, discovered America. Man has accurately determined that the sun is stationary while the earth revolves about it. The animal cannot do this. Man perceives the mirage to be an illusion. This is beyond the power of the animal. The animal can only know through sense impressions and cannot grasp intellectual realities. The animal cannot conceive of the power of thought. This is an abstract intellectual matter and not limited to the senses. The animal is incapable of knowing that the earth is round. In brief, abstract intellectual phenomena are human powers. All creation below the kingdom of man is the captive of nature; it cannot deviate in the slightest degree from nature’s laws. But man wrests the sword of dominion from nature’s hand and uses it upon nature’s head. For example, it is a natural exigency that man should be a dweller upon the earth, but the power of the human spirit transcends this limitation, and he soars aloft in airplanes. This is contrary to the law and requirement of nature. He sails at high speed upon the ocean and dives beneath its surface in submarines. He imprisons the human voice in a phonograph and communicates in the twinkling of an eye from East to West. These are things we know to be contrary to the limitations of natural law. Man transcends nature, while the mineral, vegetable and animal are helplessly subject to it. This can be done only through the power of the spirit, because the spirit is the reality.

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

“Confirmation is not dependent on talent, knowledge or wisdom … everything comes about through the assistance of God.”

Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America

Curated by Anne Perry

July 30, 1912


  1. Menon, Morella, and Jonathan Menon. “George de Forest Brush, ‘Lover of Indians.’” 239 Days in America, 30 July 2012, https://239days.com/2012/07/30/george-de-forest-brush-lover-of-indians/.
  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#section128
  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, 241. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/17#021884557

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

239 Days in America, Day 64: June 13, 1912 | New York

I Was Tired So I Slept 1

FRANK SINATRA SANG THAT he wanted to “Wake up in the city that doesn’t sleep.” He meant New York. But, on June 13, 1912, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá just wanted to sleep.

“I was tired so I slept,” he said, after resting briefly in the middle of the afternoon. It had been another busy day at his residence in Manhattan. Several prominent ministers had called to converse, drink tea, and invite him to speak at their churches. As usual, the front door had opened to visitors at 7:30 a.m. and would remain so until midnight, when ‘Abdu’l-Bahá would often start attending to his correspondence.

He frequently survived on less than three hours sleep. In fact, throughout his life, sleep had often been something of a luxury.

New York, Philadelphia, New York 2

On June 13 the continuing streams of people prompted ‘Abdu’l-Bahá to instruct those with Him, “‘If anyone who has not seen Me as yet wishes to see Me, or if anyone has some urgent business, inform Me. All others I will meet in the public meeting, because I have neither time nor strength to see people individually.’”

Thursday, June 13, 1912

In the morning and afternoon several prominent ministers visited the Master to invite Him to their churches. They left happy and submissive after receiving the bounty of being in His presence and witnessing the effulgence of His countenance. After they left, the Master spoke to the friends and newcomers about the power and majesty of the Blessed Beauty. With great power and dignity He related the story of the last days of ‘Abdu’l-Hamíd and the malicious accusations of the enemies and adversaries:

In spite of all these persecutions and afflictions, the Cause of God triumphed and the Covenant of God gained influence. In fact, even members of the Commission of Inquiry, who every hour ordered a more severe persecution and spread a fresh calumny and who had joined our enemies and adversaries at ‘Akká with the aim of destroying and effacing us, were overtaken by the wrath of God while returning to Constantinople. Affairs changed; all the tyrants were debased; some of the members of this very commission were killed or murdered; and some fled away. Finally, one of them went to the believers in Egypt and begged for minimum subsistence.

The Master gave two talks in the afternoon to the gatherings of the friends. The first was about the differences among the Bahá’ís. ‘Bahá’u’lláh’, He said, ‘declared that should Bahá’ís dispute, even if it be regarding Bahá’u’lláh Himself, both are wrong. He has enjoined all to turn to the House of Justice. But prior to its being established, all matters should be referred to the Center of the Covenant whom all are commanded to obey.’

After a brief rest, the Master went to another meeting where He spoke on the distinguishing characteristics of the world of humanity. His introductory words were as follows:

“I was tired and so I slept. While I was sleeping, I was conversing with you as though speaking at the top of my voice. Then through the effect of my own voice I awoke. As I awoke, one word was upon my lips — the word imtíyáz (‘distinction’). So I will speak to you upon that subject.” 3

Talk at 309 West Seventy-eighth Street, New York, 11 June 1912

But the life of man is not so restricted; it is divine, eternal, not mortal and sensual. For him a spiritual existence and livelihood is prepared and ordained in the divine creative plan. His life is intended to be a life of spiritual enjoyment to which the animal can never attain. This enjoyment depends upon the acquisition of heavenly virtues. The sublimity of man is his attainment of the knowledge of God. The bliss of man is the acquiring of heavenly bestowals, which descend upon him in the outflow of the bounty of God. The happiness of man is in the fragrance of the love of God. This is the highest pinnacle of attainment in the human world. How preferable to the animal and its hopeless kingdom!

Therefore, consider how base a nature it reveals in man that, notwithstanding the favors showered upon him by God, he should lower himself into the animal sphere, be wholly occupied with material needs, attached to this mortal realm, imagining that the greatest happiness is to attain wealth in this world. How purposeless! How debased is such a nature! God has created man in order that he may be a dove of the Kingdom, a heavenly candle, a recipient of eternal life. God has created man in order that he may be resuscitated through the breaths of the Holy Spirit and become the light of the world. How debased the soul which can find enjoyment in this darkness, occupied with itself, the captive of self and passion, wallowing in the mire of the material world! How degraded is such a nature! What an ignorance this is! What a blindness! How glorious the station of man who has partaken of the heavenly food and built the temple of his everlasting residence in the world of heaven!

The Manifestations of God have come into the world to free man from these bonds and chains of the world of nature. Although They walked upon the earth, They lived in heaven. They were not concerned about material sustenance and prosperity of this world. Their bodies were subjected to inconceivable distress, but Their spirits ever soared in the highest realms of ecstasy. The purpose of Their coming, Their teaching and suffering was the freedom of man from himself. Shall we, therefore, follow in Their footsteps, escape from this cage of the body or continue subject to its tyranny? Shall we pursue the phantom of a mortal happiness which does not exist or turn toward the tree of life and the joys of its eternal fruits? 4

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

Mahmud: June 13 – What happened to the Commission of Inquiry

Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America

Curated by Anne Perry

June 13, 1912


  1. Knight, Annabel. “I Was Tired So I Slept.” 239 Days in America, 13 June 2012, https://239days.com/2012/06/13/i-was-tired-so-i-slept/.
  2. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 90.
  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=4#section81
  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, 185-186. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/14#080928132.

239 Days in America, Day 5: April 15, 1912 | New York, NY

An Arms Dealer Tries to Sell War to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá 1

“Do you consider the next great national war necessary?” [Hudson] Maxim asked.

“Why not try peace for awhile?” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá answered. “If we find war is better it will not be difficult to fight again; but if we find that peace is the glorification of humanity, the impulse of true civilization, the stimulus to inventive genius and the means of attainment to the good-pleasure of God, we must agree to adhere to it and establish it permanently.”

First Days in America: New York City 2

‘Abdu’l-Bahá: “You are a celebrated inventor and scientific expert whose energies and faculties are employed in the production of means for human destruction. Your name has become famous in the science of war. Now you have the opportunity of becoming doubly famous. You must practice the science of peace…invent guns of love which shall shake the foundations of humanity.”

“…Then will it be said by the people of the world, this is Mr. Maxim, inventor of the guns of war, discoverer of high explosives, military scientist, who has also discovered and invented means for increasing the life and love of man; who has put an end to the strife of nations and uprooted the tree of war… Then will your life become pregnant and productive with really great results… Then will your name be recorded in the pages of history with a pen of gold…” 3

Talk at Home of Mountfort Mills, 327 West End Avenue, New York

If we accept the supposition that man is but a part of nature, we are confronted by an illogical statement, for this is equivalent to claiming that a part may be endowed with qualities which are absent in the whole. For man who is a part of nature has perception, intelligence, memory, conscious reflection and susceptibility, while nature itself is quite bereft of them. How is it possible for the part to be possessed of qualities or faculties which are absent in the whole? The truth is that God has given to man certain powers which are supernatural. How then can man be considered a captive of nature? Is he not dominating and controlling nature to his own uses more and more? Is he not the very divinity of nature? Shall we say nature is blind, nature is not perceptive, nature is without volition and not alive, and then relegate man to nature and its limitations? How can we answer this question? How will the materialists and scholastic atheists prove and support such a supposition? As a matter of fact, they themselves make natural laws subservient to their own wish and purpose. The proof is complete that in man there is a power beyond the limitations of nature, and that power is the bestowal of God. 4

Saturday, April 13, 1912 [Monday, April 15, 1912]

In the carriage returning to His hotel, He said:

“I have made the subject of my talks here only one of the principles of the Blessed Beauty [Bahá’u’lláh]. I have not as yet touched upon others of greater importance. It is because I perceive the pulse of the people and the needs of the present circumstances that the confirmations of the Blessed Beauty successively rain down and assist me. These effects that you see are not only the result of addresses but are due to the assistance of the Blessed Beauty. Of course, everyone says that peace is desirable but the power to influence and conform is what is required. The Blessed Beauty is indeed my helper and protector, to the degree that were I, for example, even to make war the subject of my talks, the same effects would become apparent. It is indeed the confirmations of the Blessed Beauty that aid us. Otherwise how would Westerners show such consideration to us Easterners?” 5

  1. Menon, Jonathan. “An Arms Dealer Tries to Sell War to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.” 239 Days in America, April 15, 2012. https://239days.com/2012/04/15/an-arms-dealer-tries-to-sell-war-to-abdul-baha/.
  2. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 25.
  3. “Addresses Delivered by Abdul-Baha in New York City and Vicinity,” Star of the West, no. 7 (July 13, 1912), 4-5, 10.
  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, 17-18. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/2#691430632
  5. Mahmud-i-Zarqani, Mirza. 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=2#section20