239 Days in America, Day 139: August 27, 1912 | Boston

Women’s Work 1

THE PROGRESSIVE ERA WAS not a rewarding time to be a working woman. While the wages of men were low, women’s pay was drastically lower. The number of females employed − typically in factories or as domestic servants − was rapidly increasing. Emma Goldman, a leading voice in the Socialist movement, wrote in 1910: “Nowhere is woman treated according to the merit of her work, but rather as a sex.”

Reverend George L. Perin, a pastor serving inner city Boston, decided to lend a helping hand. He was appalled at the housing that single, working women in Boston were compelled to live in. Through a tireless fundraising effort, Perin managed to buy an unoccupied hotel in Boston’s South End. His goal was to “furnish for girls living away from home a dwelling place which is morally safe, as well as comfortable and sanitary, and to give them food that is both palatable and wholesome.” The New York Times called Franklin Square House “the largest hotel for young working women and girl students in the world.”

‘Abdu’l-Bahá visited Franklin Square House on the evening of August 26, 1912. He had been invited by its superintendent to give a talk to the nearly six hundred women that called the vine-covered, red brick building home. He began by confirming the equality of women and men. “[E]ach is the complement of the other in the divine creative plan.” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá noted that God distinguishes a person’s “purity and righteousness” in “deeds and actions,” and not their gender. He acknowledged the history of the subordination of women, attributing it to a lack of equal access to education.

27 August 1912, Talk at Metaphysical Club, Boston, Massachusetts 2

It is evident, then, that each elemental atom of the universe is possessed of a capacity to express all the virtues of the universe. This is a subtle and abstract realization. Meditate upon it, for within it lies the true explanation of pantheism. From this point of view and perception pantheism is a truth, for every atom in the universe possesses or reflects all the virtues of life, the manifestation of which is effected through change and transformation. Therefore, the origin and outcome of phenomena is, verily, the omnipresent God; for the reality of all phenomenal existence is through Him. There is neither reality nor the manifestation of reality without the instrumentality of God. Existence is realized and possible through the bounty of God, just as the ray or flame emanating from this lamp is realized through the bounty of the lamp, from which it originates. Even so, all phenomena are realized through the divine bounty, and the explanation of true pantheistic statement and principle is that the phenomena of the universe find realization through the one power animating and dominating all things, and all things are but manifestations of its energy and bounty. The virtue of being and existence is through no other agency. Therefore, in the words of Bahá’u’lláh, the first teaching is the oneness of the world of humanity.

Tuesday, August 27, 1912 3

‘Abdu’l-Bahá returned to Malden in the morning. He was occupied chiefly in writing letters to the American friends. Believers and seekers came by ones and twos and He lovingly received them.

In the evening there was a well-attended meeting at the Theosophical Society. The gathering became the dawning place of the confirmations of the Abhá Kingdom. The chairman of the meeting introduced the Master to an audience of some five hundred saying:

“Several months ago I attended a convention on the emancipation of religions in this city. Many people of different religions and sects spoke, each one praising the beliefs of his own sect. But a very august personage then stood. By His bearing and by the first few words of His address, everyone felt that this person was spiritual and divinely inspired; that His explanations were heavenly; that He was speaking from God; that He could transform the souls; that He was with God and was the herald of peace and love; that what He said was first practiced by Himself; and that He was a flame from the Kingdom which brightened and illuminated the minds and hearts of all. That august person was ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. I am not worthy to introduce His Holiness to you. You will yourselves know Him better than I.”

’Abdu’l-Bahá then stood and gave a stirring address concerning the movement of atoms and the infinite forms that compose this contingent world and gave an explanation of the new teachings of the Cause. During the address, every heart and soul was enthralled. After the meeting everyone spoke of feeling the bounties of the Holy Spirit and of the need for these teachings of love and unity.

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

Chairman of Theosophical Society gives impressive introduction about ‘Abdu’l-Bahá to audience of five-hundred

Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America

Curated by Anne Perry

August 27 1912

  1. Jones, Caitlin Shayda. “Women’s Work.” 239 Days in America, 27 Aug. 2012, https://239days.com/2012/08/27/womens-work/.
  2. 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, 285-286. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/20#163204180
  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#section156

239 Days in America, Day 131: August 19, 1912 | Green Acre

August 19, 1912: The Week Ahead 1

IT HAS BEEN A busy few days for ‘Abdu’l-Bahá since his arrival at Green Acre, a unique retreat center alongside the Piscataqua River that serves as a crossroads for many of the spiritual quests that characterize America in the early years of the twentieth century.

In the week ahead: Fred Mortensen rides the rails to visit ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, a look at Green Acre’s remarkable founder Sarah Farmer, and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá travels fifty-five miles south to Malden, Massachusetts just outside of Boston.

Green Acre 2

On August 19 He was invited to a campsite by the river on the extensive grounds of Green Acre where a group of girls were pitching their tents, He sat on the grass and watched before addressing them.

The guests at Green Acre and the inhabitants of Eliot, Maine, were not the only people who sought out ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. Some years before Fred Mortensen had escaped jail while awaiting trial and had been a fugitive for four years. He later wrote that he remembered being captured when he leaped over a thirty-five foot wall, breaking his leg, “to escape the bullets whizzing around about …” He had been defended by Albert Hall, who had introduced him to the Bahá’í Faith. Fred recalled, “it was he who told me, hour after hour, about the great love of Abdu’l-Bahá for all his children … Thus the Word of God gave me a new birth, made me a living soul, a revivified spirit.” 3

In August Mr. Mortensen had gone from Minneapolis to Cleveland for a printers’ convention. He wanted to visit Abdu’l-Bahá at Green Acre, but he had no money. Therefore, he jumped on a freight train and rode the rods via Buffalo and Boston.

17 August 1912, Talk at Green Acre, Eliot, Maine 4

The worlds of God are in perfect harmony and correspondence one with another. Each world in this limitless universe is, as it were, a mirror reflecting the history and nature of all the rest. The physical universe is, likewise, in perfect correspondence with the spiritual or divine realm. The world of matter is an outer expression or facsimile of the inner kingdom of spirit. The world of minds corresponds with the world of hearts.

Monday, August 19, 1912 5

Among the friends was a lady who had come from Brooklyn to ask ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s permission to go to Utica. He kindly said to her:

“Put your trust in the Blessed Beauty. Every momentous work that one undertakes has difficulties in the beginning. One should withstand such difficulties with the utmost steadfastness. We who wish to raise this magnificent edifice must be as brave as the soldiers who are intent on conquering strong fortresses.”

Later He walked to Mrs Taylor’s home. Resting in the foyer, He praised the climate and beauty of the surroundings, saying:

“Here on a moonlit night, when the moon is in its full brilliance, when the stars are shining and the air is pure and a sweet breeze is wafting, at such a time to pray and weep before the Court of God has a delight of its own.”

As He left there He encountered some women who were fortune tellers. Some read palms and others interpreted dreams. They all voiced their opinion that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá possessed divine spirit and heavenly power. He showered kindness on all of them then returned to the Inn and gave a talk about superstitious beliefs and the severe discipline and asceticism of the Hindus.

He also visited a residence known as the Bahá’í House. He praised it, saying, ‘It would have been good if we had stayed here.’ The Master then gave instructions for the Nineteen Day Feast to be held the following day, saying: “Tomorrow I will host the festivity.’

In the afternoon He was invited to a summer school for girls held on the Green Acre common. Mrs Tatum drove Him in her automobile. There He sat on the grass near the bank of the river as the students pitched their tents and began their exercises. The principal and a teacher gave Him information about the school. A group had assembled under the trees to hear the Master’s address. With great reverence, the superintendent of the school introduced the Master. He then gave an eloquent talk on both spiritual and material education which drew much admiration from the audience. Afterwards the chairman and school mistress thanked the Master and expressed everyone’s appreciation for His talk. The students then stood and sang in praise of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in such sweet tones that everyone was enchanted. When the Master left everyone went to the automobile to shake His hand and to express their gratitude.

In the evening ‘Abdu’l-Bahá spoke on the everlasting dominion of God and His Holy Manifestations. After the talk He answered questions.

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

“Put your trust in the Blessed Beauty.”

Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America

Curated by Anne Perry

August 19 1912

  1. Sockett, Robert. “August 19, 1912: The Week Ahead.” 239 Days in America, 19 Aug. 2012, https://239days.com/2012/08/19/august-17-1912-the-week-ahead/.
  2. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 126-127.
  3. Fred Mortensen “When a Soul Meets the Master,” Star of the West, 14, no. 12 (Mar. 1924), 366.
  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, 270. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/19#043258320
  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=6#section148

239 Days in America, Day 92: July 11, 1912 | New York

’Abdu’l-Bahá’s Journey So Far: Month Three 1

Today marks the end of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s third month in America. We thought we’d take this opportunity to look back at some of the highlights of the past month…

New York City 2

‘Abdu’l-Bahá searched every face and every heart, encouraging the beginners, urging the learners, directing the more advanced, opening vistas of the spiritual world to their inner vision, inviting them, by His words and examples, to enter this world, and, while walking on the earth, to react to the divine realities instead of the material facade that covered the true spiritual environment.

Diary of Juliet Thompson, 12 July 1912 3

But the very next day [July 11] another picture, of very different children, was superimposed upon this.

In the afternoon around three o’clock I returned with Rhoda Nichols only to meet Him just going out with the Persians. He smiled, then walked swiftly toward the river, but Ahmad, dropping behind, called to Rhoda and me: “Come along with us to the Harrises’.” We should have known better than to go, for the Master had not invited us, but we couldn’t resist the temptation. So we followed up Riverside Drive, then West End Avenue, till we came to Ninety-Fifth Street, where Mr [William Hooper] and Mrs [Gertrude] Harris live. A tenement house neighbourhood.

As we approached Ninety-Fifth Street, there we saw them: the different children. There must have been nearly a hundred of them, playing in the street with their hoops and balls. But, when the Master drew near, all shining white in His long flowing robes, they immediately stopped playing. It all happened instantaneously. The next moment they had fallen into formation and were marching down the street behind Him (we had turned east toward Central Park), some of them still rolling their hoops. Without one word they followed, their little faces almost solemn. They made me think of a real and beautiful Children’s Crusade.

We came to the house where the Harrises live and walked up five steep flights, but when Mrs Harris opened her apartment door and Rhoda and I saw a table inside set only for the Master and the Persians, we backed away terribly embarrassed and lost no time in getting downstairs. After all, we couldn’t have foreseen a luncheon at three o’clock!

When we opened the street door, there were the children again, surrounding the house, silently looking up at it. A little yellow-haired girl came running up the stoop to me. She seemed to be the spokesman for the others. Breathlessly she asked: “Please, ma’am, tell us. Is He Christ?

I sat down on the stoop while the whole crowd of children swarmed and pushed around me. “I will tell you all about Him,” I said. Then I whispered to Rhoda: “Go upstairs again, dear, and let the Master know what is happening.”

She returned with a wonderful message from the Master, an invitation to all the children to come to a feast to be given specially for them at the [Edward and Carrie] Kinneys’ house next Sunday.

Thursday, July 11, 1912

After morning prayers and meditation, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá bestowed His favors upon the friends and well-wishers, especially on Mrs Goodall and Mrs Cooper and other friends from California, confirming and assisting them. While He conversed with the friends, He also wrote Tablets in response to petitions from the believers.

Among those who visited Him today were two eminent clergymen: one was Dr Grant, the minister of the Church of the Ascension, and the other Dr Ives of the Brotherhood Church of New Jersey. They have frequently visited the Master showing Him the utmost respect and reverence.

In the afternoon there was a meeting of the friends at the home of Miss Juliet Thompson. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá encouraged them to hold as many meetings as possible. ‘Promise each other’, He said, ‘to visit one another’s homes so that it may be the cause of promoting love and happiness.’ After His eloquent discourse, sherbet and sweets were served and then He left the meeting.

At the evening gathering at His house ‘Abdu’l-Bahá spoke on the degrees and station of creation, the maturity of the world and the magnitude of the Dispensation of the Ancient Beauty. The meeting lasted until dinner was ready. He sat at the table and invited all the friends from America to dine with Him. At this point a lady asked, ‘Up to the present time, not a single woman has appeared as a Messenger from God. Why have all the Manifestations of God been men?’ ‘Abdu’l-Bahá replied:

“Although women are equal to men in abilities and capacities, there is no doubt that men are bolder and physically more powerful. This distinction is also apparent in the animal kingdom, for example among pigeons, sparrows, peacocks and others.” 4

Talk at 309 West Seventy-eighth Street, New York, 5 July 1912 5

When man casts even a cursory glance of reflection upon the question of the universe, he discovers it is very ancient. A Persian philosopher was looking up into the heavens, lost in wonder. He said, “I have written a book containing seventy proofs of the accidental appearance of the universe, but I still find it very ancient.”

Bahá’u’lláh says, “The universe hath neither beginning nor ending.” He has set aside the elaborate theories and exhaustive opinions of scientists and material philosophers by the simple statement, “There is no beginning, no ending.” The theologians and religionists advance plausible proofs that the creation of the universe dates back six thousand years; the scientists bring forth indisputable facts and say, “No! These evidences indicate ten, twenty, fifty thousand years ago,” etc. There are endless discussions pro and con. Bahá’u’lláh sets aside these discussions by one word and statement. He says, “The divine sovereignty hath no beginning and no ending.” By this announcement and its demonstration He has established a standard of agreement among those who reflect upon this question of divine sovereignty; He has brought reconciliation and peace in this war of opinion and discussion.

Briefly, there were many universal cycles preceding this one in which we are living. They were consummated, completed and their traces obliterated. The divine and creative purpose in them was the evolution of spiritual man, just as it is in this cycle. The circle of existence is the same circle; it returns. The tree of life has ever borne the same heavenly fruit.

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

A Feast for neighbourhood children

Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America

Curated by Anne Perry

July 11, 1912

  1. Sockett, Robert. “‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s Journey So Far: Month Three ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.” 239 Days in America, 11 July 2012, http://stagingtwo39.wpengine.com/2012/07/11/abdul-bahas-journey-so-far-month-three/.
  2. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 110.
  3. Thompson, Juliet. The Diary of Juliet Thompson. Edited by Marzieh Gail. 1st ed. 1947. Reprint, Los Angeles: Kalimát Press, 1983, 335-336. https://archive.org/details/diaryofjuliettho0000thom/page/332/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#section109
  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, 220. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/16#822663976

Where am I?

At various times in our lives many of us ponder far-ranging questions: Where did this material world / universe come from? Are we alone or are there advanced life forms on other worlds? Will the universe expand forever or eventually collapse into nothingness? In other words, where are we, in relation to everything else?

These often spawn existential where am I queries such as: Who am I? Why am I here? What will happen to me? Collectively, both sets of questions make fodder for thinkers and writers in science fiction and fantasy.

They also generate theories and teachings in cosmology — a field of study that thrives in the interface between science and religion.

Wikipedia posits at least three different aspects of cosmology: physical / scientific, esoteric / religious, and philosophical/secular. Optimally, all three would be mutually supportive rather than contentious, as outlined in the previous post titled, Time4Time About-Reboot. But achieving such complementarity requires those investigating cosmological avenues be clear about how they gain insight and understanding and draw conclusions about what they know and don’t know. The search for this clarity blends the more tenseless and abstract “where are we” with the present and personal “where am I” to generate another set of questions that challenges us to place our existence in an all-encompassing “omniverse” however one chooses to define it:

Despite the promotion of innumerable thought experiments, these questions carry no certainty of being quickly answered, if ever. This, then, creates the intellectual space to entertain spiritual perspectives that can explain or offer proofs for the seemingly inexplicable or unprovable. For instance, in the 1880s Bahá’u’lláh, Prophet Founder of the Bahá’í Faith, stated:

As to thy question concerning the worlds of God. Know thou of a truth that the worlds of God are countless in their number, and infinite in their range. None can reckon or comprehend them except God, the All-Knowing, the All-Wise. 2

Verily I say, the creation of God embraceth worlds besides this world, and creatures apart from these creatures. In each of these worlds He hath ordained things which none can search except Himself, the All-Searching, the All-Wise. 3

These statements are quite prescient considering the field of quantum mechanics out of which the theories of multiverses, Big Bang, Big Bounce, etc. emerged was not named and formalized until the 1920s. Furthermore, they illustrate how intertwined spiritual and material perspectives can point to new places where we are and where I am. It’s an adventure that lies ahead for all of us!

More to follow…

  1. Perry, Philip, “The basis of the universe may not be energy or matter but information,” BigThink (blog), August 27, 2017, https://bigthink.com/philip-perry/the-basis-of-the-universe-may-not-be-energy-or-matter-but-information.
  2. Bahá’u’lláh (1978) 1879-91. “Súriy-i-Vafá”(www.bahai.org/r/861851575). Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh. Chatham, UK: W&J Mackay Ltd. pg. 187. ISBN 0-85398-077-2.
  3. Ibid. pg. 188.