A mashriq programme with the theme of Eden

Held in Dunedin, NZ, August 1, 2007.

Contents

Reading 1: Surahs 92 (The Night) and 93 (The Morning Hours)
Music: Ben Harper - Don't Take That Attitude To The Grave (1993) Welcome to the Cruel World (4:24)
Reading 2: The Bab: Selections from the Bab, pp 123-124
Music: Bob Dylan - Gates of Eden (1965) - Bringing It All Back Home, Part 1 (3:00)
Reading 3: Luke 11: 37-54
Music: Bob Dylan - Gates of Eden (1965) - Bringing It All Back Home Part 2 (3:00)
Reading 4: Baha'u'llah: Tablet of Joseph
Music: Bob Dylan - All Along the Watchtower (1967) John Wesley Harding (2:31)
Reading 6: Baha'u'llah: Arabic Hidden Words, nos 12-17
Music: Ben Harper - The Three Of Us (1993) Welcome To The Cruel World (2:35)
Reading 5: Baha'u'llah Book of the Tigris
Music: 10,000 Maniacs – Eden (1992) Our Time in Eden (4:09)
Reading 7: The Bab: Selections from the Bab, p 123
Reading 8: Prayer by Baha'u'llah
Music: Bass Adjustment Project - The Promised Day Has Come (2006) (3:15)

Reading 1: Surahs 92 (The Night) and 93 (The Morning Hours)

The Night

In the Name of God the Compassionate the Caring

By the night when it falls
By the day when it breaks
By what has made the male and the female
You strive toward different ends.

As for him who shares what he has and is mindful
who affirms the right—
him we will ease to the good life

As for him who hoards what he has
thinking it makes him secure
who denies the right—
him we will ease to hardship
Wealth will not save him from ruin

Ours is guidance
Ours is the after and ours the before

I warn you of a fire that sears
One hard in wrong will burn there
a denier, one who turns away
We will spare from it
whoever keeps the faith
Who shares what he owns, making it pure
Who looks to no one to return the favor
Seeking only the face of his lord most high
That one will know peace of mind

The Morning Hours


In the Name of God the Compassionate the Caring

By the morning hours
By the night when it is still
Your lord has not abandoned you
and does not hate you

What is after will be better
than what came before
To you the lord will be giving
You will be content

Did he not find you orphaned
and give you shelter
Find you lost
and guide you
Find you in hunger
and provide for you

As for the orphan—
do not oppress him
And one who asks—
do not turn him away
And the grace of your lord—
Proclaim
(Source: Michael Sells, Approaching the Qur’an, 1999.)

Music: Ben Harper - Don't Take That Attitude To The Grave (1993) Welcome To The Cruel World (4:24)

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You say what's mine is mine
And what's yours is mine too
Now you've got more than you can spend
But all of the money
In the whole wide world
Is not gonna help you in the end
Now while there's still time to be saved
Don't take that attitude to your grave
Might be too late for you I'm afraid
Don't take that attitude to your grave
Don't you take it there

I hear helicopters
Over my house every day
Shining their lights and flying low
Treat a child like a criminal
From the day that he is born
And you're gonna reap just what you sow
Now while there's still time to be saved
Don't take that attitude to your grave
Might be too late for you I'm afraid
Don't take that attitude to your grave
Don't you take it there

So you can move your court case
Way across town
You can move it across the whole wide globe
But it ain't gonna help your court case
Up in the sky
When you go to put on your white robe
Now while there's still time to be saved
Don't take that attitude to your grave
Might be too late for you I'm afraid
Don't take that attitude to your grave
Don't you take it there

And you dare the children
To stay off of drugs
Now I dare you to stop letting them in
And how dare you point your finger
At a gang out on the street
While it's you who is committing the sin
Now while there's still time to be saved
Don't take that attitude to your grave
Might be too late for you I'm afraid
Don't take that attitude to your grave
Don't you take it there
They don't want it there
You know your mother taught you better
Don't take that attitude to your grave

Reading 2: The Bab: Selections from the Bab, pp 123-124

It is recorded in a tradition that of the entire concourse of the Christians no more than seventy people embraced the Faith of the Apostle of God. The blame falleth upon their doctors, for if these had believed, they would have been followed by the mass of their countrymen. Behold, then, that which hath come to pass! The learned men of Christendom were held to be learned by virtue of their safeguarding the teaching of Christ, and yet consider how they themselves have been the cause of men's failure to accept the Faith and attain unto salvation! Is it still thy wish to follow in their footsteps? The followers of Jesus submitted to their clerics to be saved on the Day of Resurrection, and as a result of this obedience they eventually entered into the fire, and on the Day when the Apostle of God appeared they shut themselves out from the recognition of His exalted Person. Dost thou desire to follow such divines?

Nay, by God, be thou neither a divine without discernment nor a follower without discernment, for both of these shall perish on the Day of Resurrection. Rather it behooveth thee to be a discerning divine, or to walk with insight in the way of God by obeying a true leader of religion.

In every nation thou beholdest unnumbered spiritual leaders who are bereft of true discernment, and among every people thou dost encounter myriads of adherents who are devoid of the same characteristic. Ponder for a while in thy heart, have pity on thyself and turn not aside thine attention from proofs and evidences. However, seek not proofs and evidences after thine idle fancy; but rather base thy proofs upon what God hath appointed. Moreover, know thou that neither being a man of learning nor being a follower is in itself a source of glory. If thou art a man of learning, thy knowledge becometh an honour, and if thou art a follower, thine adherence unto leadership becometh an honour, only when these conform to the good-pleasure of God. And beware lest thou regard as an idle fancy the good-pleasure of God; it is the same as the good-pleasure of His Messenger. Consider the followers of Jesus. They were eagerly seeking the good-pleasure of God, yet none of them attained the good-pleasure of His Apostle, which is identical with God's good-pleasure, except such as embraced His Faith.

Bob Dylan - Gates of Eden (1965) - Bringing It All Back Home, Part 1 (3:00)

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Of war and peace the truth just twists
Its curfew gull just glides
Upon four-legged forest clouds
The cowboy angel rides
With his candle lit into the sun
Though its glow is waxed in black
All except when 'neath the trees of Eden

The lamppost stands with folded arms
Its iron claws attached
To curbs 'neath holes where babies wail
Though it shadows metal badge
All and all can only fall
With a crashing but meaningless blow
No sound ever comes from the Gates of Eden

The savage soldier sticks his head in sand
And then complains
Unto the shoeless hunter who's gone deaf
But still remains
Upon the beach where hound dogs bay
At ships with tattooed sails
Heading for the Gates of Eden

With a time-rusted compass blade
Aladdin and his lamp
Sits with Utopian hermit monks
Side saddle on the Golden Calf
And on their promises of paradise
You will not hear a laugh
All except inside the Gates of Eden

Relationships of ownership
They whisper in the wings
To those condemned to act accordingly
And wait for succeeding kings
And I try to harmonize with songs
The lonesome sparrow sings
There are no kings inside the Gates of Eden…

Reading 3: Luke 11: 37-54

When Jesus had finished speaking, a Pharisee invited him to eat with him; so he went in and reclined at the table. But the Pharisee, noticing that Jesus did not first wash before the meal, was surprised.

Then the Lord said to him, "Now then, you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. You foolish people! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also? But give what is inside the dish to the poor, and everything will be clean for you.

"Woe to you Pharisees, because you give God a tenth of your mint, rue and all other kinds of garden herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God. You should have practiced the latter without leaving the former undone.

"Woe to you Pharisees, because you love the most important seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces.

"Woe to you, because you are like unmarked graves, which men walk over without knowing it."

One of the experts in the law answered him, "Teacher, when you say these things, you insult us also."

Jesus replied, "And you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them.

"Woe to you, because you build tombs for the prophets, and it was your forefathers who killed them. So you testify that you approve of what your forefathers did; they killed the prophets, and you build their tombs. Because of this, God in his wisdom said, 'I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and others they will persecute.' Therefore this generation will be held responsible for the blood of all the prophets that has been shed since the beginning of the world, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who was killed between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, this generation will be held responsible for it all.

"Woe to you experts in the law, because you have taken away the key to knowledge. You yourselves have not entered, and you have hindered those who were entering."

When Jesus left there, the Pharisees and the teachers of the law began to oppose him fiercely and to besiege him with questions, waiting to catch him in something he might say.

Bob Dylan - Gates of Eden (1965) - Bringing It All Back Home Part 2 (3:00)

…The motorcycle black madonna
Two-wheeled gypsy queen
And her silver-studded phantom cause
The gray flannel dwarf to scream
As he weeps to wicked birds of prey
Who pick up on his bread crumb sins
And there are no sins inside the Gates of Eden

The kingdoms of Experience
In the precious wind they rot
While paupers change possessions
Each one wishing for what the other has got
And the princess and the prince
Discuss what's real and what is not
It doesn't matter inside the Gates of Eden

The foreign sun, it squints upon
A bed that is never mine
As friends and other strangers
From their fates try to resign
Leaving men wholly, totally free
To do anything they wish to do but die
And there are no trials inside the Gates of Eden

At dawn my lover comes to me
And tells me of her dreams
With no attempts to shovel the glimpse
Into the ditch of what each one means
At times I think there are no words
But these to tell what's true
And there are no truths outside the Gates of Eden

Reading 4: Baha'u'llah: Tablet of Joseph

Meditate upon the nations of former ages and why they were excluded from approaching the shore of God and prevented from approaching the Beauty of His Eternal Majesty. If thou lookest with clear insight (iron sight), thou wilt perceive that all are deprived of the bounty of God on account of the veils of words, imaginations, and invented proofs. In the Day of God, though the Beauty of God was like the sun in heaven, shining and radiating, still they were veiled on account of their superstitions and imaginations. Notwithstanding that they had been commanded in all the tablets not to cling to anything created between earth and heaven in the time of the manifestation, but to adhere only to the root of the Cause and that which is manifested through Him, yet they deviated from the right path and adhered to the idea that the way to know God (Who is exalted and holy above all) depends upon believing or disbelieving the people. Woe upon them, being remote from God because of their willingness to know God through that which is beside Him! This is impossible because the Ancient Essence is known (only) by Himself, and all things that are known are made possible (only) through that which flows from the Pen of His command. Exalted is He, that He should be known through that which is beside Him, because, verily, all else but Him was created as thou art.

In this Day, all those on earth and in heaven are viewed (by God) as being in one region. Every soul that is wholly cut from all else save God and is soaring to the heaven of the knowledge of God is, and will be, of those who are faithful to God and of His saints, even though they should not be known by others. And the soul that rejects will be considered as one of the lowest of the creatures in the sight of God, even though he should be of the chiefs among the people, because God (exalted is His mention) hath never been and never will be related or attributed to any one of the creatures. All people were created alike by the breath of His order, and loftiness, exaltation and abasement appeared among the people after they had been created. Every soul who accepts the Word of God while hearing it, verily, is of the inhabitants of the Supreme Kingdom and of the confirmed ones in the Paradise of Abha, and those who do not (accept) are mentioned as the people of Hades.

In this Day, he who desires to be in relationship with the Tree of the Cause must withdraw himself from all that is in heaven and upon earth and advance toward the great Aspect with a pure and shining heart and a sanctified soul. If any soul desires to know God (exalted is His majesty) through other means, he will never succeed and will never understand, because all beside Him are limited with (evident) limitations of possibilities and are brought into existence by (His) power of creation. Through that which is created and limited, the Essence of the Ancient was not and never will be known.

Bob Dylan - All Along the Watchtower (1967) John Wesley Harding (2:31)

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{amazon id='B0000024TZ'} "There must be some way out of here," said the joker to the thief,
"There's too much confusion, I can't get no relief.
Businessmen, they drink my wine, plowmen dig my earth,
None of them along the line know what any of it is worth."

"No reason to get excited," the thief, he kindly spoke,
"There are many here among us who feel that life is but a joke.
But you and I, we've been through that, and this is not our fate,
So let us not talk falsely now, the hour is getting late."

All along the watchtower, princes kept the view
While all the women came and went, barefoot servants, too.

Outside in the distance a wildcat did growl,
Two riders were approaching, the wind began to howl.

Reading 6: Baha'u'llah: Arabic Hidden Words, nos 12-17

12. O son of being! With the hands of power I made thee and with the fingers of strength I created thee; and within thee have I placed the essence of My light. Be thou content with it and seek naught else, for My work is perfect and My command is binding. Question it not, nor have a doubt thereof.

13. O son of spirit! I created thee rich, why dost thou bring thyself down to poverty? Noble I made thee, wherewith dost thou abase thyself? Out of the essence of knowledge I gave thee being, why seekest thou enlightenment from anyone beside Me? Out of the clay of love I molded thee, how dost thou busy thyself with another? Turn thy sight unto thyself, that thou mayest find Me standing within thee, mighty, powerful and self-subsisting.

14. O son of man! Thou art My dominion and My dominion perisheth not, wherefore fearest thou thy perishing? Thou art My light and My light shall never be extinguished, why dost thou dread extinction? Thou art My glory and My glory fadeth not; thou art My robe and My robe shall never be outworn. Abide then in thy love for Me, that thou mayest find Me in the realm of glory.

15. O son of utterance! Turn thy face unto Mine and renounce all save Me; for My sovereignty endureth and My dominion perisheth not. If thou seekest another than Me, yea, if thou searchest the universe for evermore, thy quest will be in vain.

16. O son of light! Forget all save Me and commune with My spirit. This is of the essence of My command, therefore turn unto it.

17. O son of man! Be thou content with Me and seek no other helper. For none but Me can ever suffice thee.

Ben Harper - The Three Of Us (1993) Welcome To The Cruel World (2:35)

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Instrumental

Reading 5: Baha'u'llah Book of the Tigris

But God has sublime parables, if you but knew. Consider the course of the Tigris, which you see. It grows turbulent at the time when it overflows its banks and goes on its course. What it does is determined by its own sovereignty. It pays no heed to the cries of weak souls that are raised from every side, that a mighty dam has been breached, or a wall in such and such locality has crumbled, or a house has been destroyed, or a mansion has collapsed. Rather, it flows on, with perfect dominion, power, triumph and sovereignty. At every stage, it acts with perfect egalitarianism. For instance, before its onslaught, every building, whether it belongs to an emperor or to a pauper, is equally at risk. The only exception is a building that is so strong that it can stand firm on its own. Thus do we coin for you parables, so that perhaps you might attain certitude in your beliefs. Render your vision and insight subtle, so that a breeze from the wind of delight and splendor might caress your heart and you might be firmly ensconced on the throne of tranquillity. This is the greatest, the supreme teaching, if you can but discern it.

In addition, note that if a powerful individual desired to dam up this river, and to curb it by means of main force and sovereign power, how many homes and dwellings would in consequence be destroyed, and how many souls would drown. But at the same time desiccated fields that had for some time been afflicted with burning thirst would attain fresh and wondrous life and would be clothed in fine and magnificent new raiments. Thus does God create what he wills by his command, and there is no god but God. That is the lord of the worlds. In the same way, consider the foreordained and predestined mysteries - what has appeared and shall appear. Like this river, events flow in their own station. But if something appears that is contrary to that destiny, then conflict arises in the world. If you can grasp this abstruse and recondite enigma, which is more hidden than any other secret, you will be able to dispense with the question you posed, and with all such questions in the future. In any age or epoch when the Point of Unity and the self-sufficient Essence desires, he makes this real river and true sea to appear and sets it flowing, clothing it in a new body and a wondrous robe. All those edifices of being and imaginings of false souls then drown and perish. But they are obliterated by the utmost thirst and parching, neglecting even so much as to take a sip from it. Thus does God revivify whomever he wishes, vindicating whomever he pleases and denying whomever he wishes, if you but knew.

10,000 Maniacs – Eden (1992) Our Time in Eden (4:09)

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We are the roses in the garden,
beauty with thorns among our leaves.
To pick a rose you ask your hands to bleed.
What is the reason for having roses
when your blood is shed carelessly?
It must be for something more than vanity.
Believe me, the truth is we're not honest,
not the people that we dream.
We're not as close as we could be.
Willing to grow but rains are shallow.
Barren and wind-scattered seed on stone and dry land,
we will be.
Waiting for the light arisen
to flood inside the prison.
And in that time kind words
alone will teach us,
no bitterness will reach us.
Reason will be guided another way.
All in time,
but the clock is another demon that
devours our time in Eden,
in our Paradise.
Will our eyes see well beneath us,
flowers all divine?
Is there still time?
If we wake and discover
in life a precious love,
will that waking become more heavenly?

Reading 7: The Bab: Selections from the Bab, p 123

Rid thyself of all attachments to aught except God, enrich thyself in God by dispensing with all else besides Him, and recite this prayer:

Say: God sufficeth all things above all things, and nothing in the heavens or in the earth or in whatever lieth between them but God, thy Lord, sufficeth. Verily, He is in Himself the Knower, the Sustainer, the Omnipotent.

Regard not the all-sufficing power of God as an idle fancy. It is that genuine faith which thou cherishest for the Manifestation of God in every Dispensation. It is such faith that sufficeth above all the things that exist on the earth, whereas no created thing on earth besides faith would suffice thee. If thou art not a believer, the Tree of divine Truth would condemn thee to extinction. If thou art a believer, thy faith shall be sufficient for thee above all things that exist on earth, even though thou possess nothing.

Reading 8: Prayer by Baha'u'llah

He is God, exalted be He; His condition is that of greatness and might. My God, my God, I give thanks to Thee under all circumstances and I praise Thee under all conditions. In blessings, praise be to Thee, 0 God of all worlds, and in their absence, thanks be to Thee, 0 Object of them that know the mysteries. In suffering, praise be to Thee, 0 Focus of the worship of all that are in the heavens and the earth, and in adversity, glory be to Thee, 0 Thou through Whom the hearts of them that long for Thee have been ravished. In hardship, praise be to Thee, 0 Object of them that seek Thee, and in misfortune, thanks be to Thee, 0 Thou Who art mentioned within the hearts of them that are nigh unto Thee. In riches, Thine is the glory, 0 Lord of them that are devoted to Thee, and in poverty, Thine is the command, 0 Hope of them that glorify Thy singleness. In joy, Thine is the majesty, 0 Thou, no god is there but Thee, and in sadness, Thine is the beauty, 0 Thou, no god is there but Thee. In hunger, Thine is the justice, 0 Thou, no god is there but Thee, and in sufficiency, Thine is the grace, 0 Thou, no god is there but Thee. At home, Thine is the favour, 0 Thou, no god is there but Thee, and in the land of strangers, Thine is the decree, 0 Thou, no god is there but Thee. Beneath the sword, Thine are the benefits, 0 Thou, no god is there but Thee, and in the house, Thine is the perfection, 0 Thou, no god is there but Thee. In the palace, Thine is the generosity, O Thou, no god is there but Thee, and in the dust, Thine is the bounty, O Thou, no god is there but Thee. In prison, Thine is the faithfulness, 0 Abundant in benefits, and in confinement, Thine is the eternity, 0 King of all that has been. Thine is the bounty, 0 Lord of bounty and Sovereign of bounty and King of bounty. I bear witness that Thou art praised in all that Thou doest, 0 Source of bounty, and obeyed in Thy decree, 0 Ocean of bounty, 0 Origin of bounty, 0 Place unto which bounty returns.
(Adi’a, pp.45-51)

(Source: Denis MacEoin, Rituals in Babism and Baha’ism 1994, p.131)

Bass Adjustment Project - The Promised Day Has Come (2006) (3:15)

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All my brothers and sisters
Listen to my words
Don't you know the time has come
To start a Ruhi course

All my sons and daughters
You've got to move the masses
Don't you know the time is near
For building children’s classes

No apologies
Gotta do core activities
'cause I tell you
The Promised Day has come

All my fellow citizens
Cry and get emotional
Don't you know the time is now
To make your own devotional

To all who didn't notice yet
It's time to enter by troops
We got to build momentum
Create junior youth groups

The core activities
That's what you shouldn't miss
'cause I tell you
The Promised Day has come