Sweet-Scented Streams

It's been a busy week in the studio and I'm finally caught up. It feels good. Only one more show of the season and then I have to get cracking on holiday gifts for my family. I took the handmade pledge and with only two exceptions (my brother and husband) my gifts will be handmade this year.

I don't know what will happen next year...or how I'll handle the holidays if I declare, but I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.

I'm excited because I may enroll in this class. I've not been the best steward of my body over the years. I'm better now, but still paying a price...I have a great deal of weight to lose and some bad habits (not sleeping enough) that need to be changed.

I like the idea of pairing my first class with my need for help learning how to respect and tend my body.

I know at this stage, someone visiting this blog may be thinking "Laura, ask not what the Baha'i faith can do for you..." but, this is how I do things...what I can do for the faith will come later.

I immerse myself in the writings and prayers and then find ways to practically apply them to my own life. It's how I learn. If (or when) the time comes, it may be how I share.

I think I've been a little worried with this blog that perhaps my way of coming to understanding may seem fairly self-absorbed and while it may be and perhaps someday I'll reread these entries with a different view, for right now...I learn as I go.

{josquote}...when I read the line "sweet-scented streams" I knew that a fragrant bath was in order...{/josquote}

I love taking pleasure in even a line or two of a prayer and then applying it, usually in a very literal way, as a means to opening up understanding of the next line.

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Reward and Punishment

Baha’u’llah writes:

Schools must first train the children in the principles of religion, so that the Promise and the Threat recorded in the Books of God may prevent them from the things forbidden and adorn them with the mantle of the commandments; but this in such a measure that it may not injure the children by resulting in ignorant fanaticism and bigotry.
(Tablets of Baha’u'llah, p. 68)

Promise and Threat, or reward and punishment, is one of those basic dynamics that acts out at several levels. The first is the level of society: where reward and punishment is the pillar of social order:

The Great Being saith: The structure of world stability and order hath been reared upon, and will continue to be sustained by, the twin pillars of reward and punishment….
(Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u'llah, p. 218)

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Our Daily Bread: Not Purely Pure

Bahá’u'lláh’s letter to Mánikchí Ṣáḥib is noteworthy for being one of his few “pure Persian” compositions, but it is not purely pure. In fact, the closing passage, a prayer for forgiveness, is written in Arabic. This would not have made much difference to the addressee, because he was a Parsee, and probably spoke only Hindi and Gujarati. The only difference it might have made is that it may have required an extra translator.

I have no idea whom the prayer asks forgiveness for, if it’s actually asking at all.

Since the prayer is omitted from all English translations of the letter, and because this makes me curious as to what this omission consists of, and because I’m generally curious about everything relating to Zoroastrians, I’ve taken a stab at a rough translation, which is bound to remain an unfinished hack. The prayer begins as follows:

اى ربّ أستغفرک بلسانى و قلبى و نفسى و فؤادى
و روحى و جسدى و جسمى و عظمى و دمى و جلدى ،
و إنّک أنت التّوّاب الرّحيم

O Lord! Thou forgiveth with my tongue, and my heart, and my soul, and my heart, and my spirit, and my body, and my flesh, and my bone, and my [دم], and my skin; verily Thou art the Relenting, the Compassionate.

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Rumi in "Secret of Divine Civilization"

In Secret of Divine Civilization, Abdu’l-Baha quotes from Rumi’s Mathnavi.
The text is here.

the two lines concerned are towards the bottom
beginning naaz and zesht.

Marzieh Gail translates:

The flower-faced may sulk or play the flirt,
The cruel fair may bridle and coquet;
But coyness in the ugly is ill-met,
and pain in a blind eye’s a double hurt.

Including the lines before and after, I translate:

“You, who are not Joseph, must be Jacob;
remain, like him, in tears and affliction.
Heed this advice from the Ghaznavi sage,
so that your decrepit self may be new through and through.
For coquetry, the face should be a flower,
(it suffers poverty, does not turn sour).
How ugly, when plain Jane tries to flirt:
pain in a blind eye’s a double hurt.

In the presence of Joseph, don’t flirt or give favours,
you cannot be Jacob except by poverty and sighs.”

So what is the quote saying? Maybe:

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Introduction to Garden of Justice

Introduction to Garden of Justice (Ridvan al-'adl)

Baha'u'llah revealed the tablet known as Garden of Justice for Aqa Siyyid Muhammad-Rida Shahmirzadi, who was from an early Babi family. In paragraph 23, Baha'u'llah refers to his correspondent directly as "the servant named Rida after Nabil". Baha'u'llah did not identity correspondents by name because of the danger to them if a tablet was confiscated by authorities. In this case, the name 'Nabil' was substituted for 'Muhammad' because both names have the same numerical value on the abjad system, which assigns numerical values to Arabic letters. The phrase "Rida after Nabil" means 'Rida after Muhammad', which gives the name Muhammad-Rida.

{josquote}Baha'u'llah was keen to dissuade people from believing that virtue was an inherent aspect of them because he wanted to prevent them from becoming proud.{/josquote}

Although the circumstances leading to the writing of this tablet have not yet been uncovered, references in the tablet to prior events suggest that Baha'u'llah probably wrote it late in the Edirne period or early in Akka. He refers at length to the fact that the Babis were rejecting his claim to be the manifestation promised by the Bab. We can glean from this that the tablet was written after Baha'u'llah had openly declared his mission in Surah of the Companions in the mid-1860s. Baha'u'llah's open assertions to be the Promised One of the Bab provoked opposition from his half-brother Mirza Yahya Subh-i Azal, who was understood to be the successor of the Bab and hence the leader of the Babi community. Baha'u'llah's declaration to be the Promised One meant that the Babi religion had ended, and a new one, for which Baha'u'llah was the prophet-founder, had begun. This claim ended Azal's reputed leadership of the community. The resulting conflict between Baha'u'llah and Azal lead to Baha'u'llah separating his household from Azal's in 1866. The difficulties and suffering Azal brought on Baha'u'llah during subsequent years are alluded to in the Garden of Justice. For example, in paragraph 25, Baha'u'llah laments being left alone among the Babis and mentions their calumny against him through accusations of wrongdoing and the distribution of malicious material. Another reference to Azal comes at the end of paragraph 4, where Baha'u'llah warns the name of God 'the Just' not to be like one who was adorned with the names and, when he looked at himself, turned against God.

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