Alison Marshall's Column

Alison is an unenrolled Baha'i, a business writer and a mystic. She lives in Dunedin, New Zealand.

Surah of the Companions (intro and audio)

Here is the introduction to, and the readings for, Baha'u'llah's Surah of the Companions. It is a long tablet. In reading it, Mark has had to divide it into 5 parts, making 5 audio files to download. The introduction, also, is quite long. I've had to gloss many important issues, but I intend to treat those issues in more depth in essays that I will write for my forthcoming website for studying the writings.

Download the audio of Mark Choveaux reading Surah of the Companions - part 1

Download the audio of Mark Choveaux reading Surah of the Companions - part 2

Read more: Surah of the Companions (intro and audio)

Baha'u'llah's lament for the Bab

Dear all,

To commemorate the martyrdom of the Bab, I have recorded Baha'u'llah's lament for the Bab in his Tablet of Sorrows. Because it is a provisional translation, it isn't well known by the Baha'is, but it is a perfect reading for this holy day.

A couple of things that I think are magical about this passage are the way Baha'u'llah channels the Bab's lament for Baha'u'llah. Baha'u'llah quotes what the Bab says from the next world about Baha'u'llah's sufferings. After that, the Ancient Beauty tells Baha'u'llah to stop lamenting because it's causing all creation to mourn. So Baha'u'llah goes back to discussing his original topic. It seems to me that this is Baha'u'llah's transcendent spirit (the Holy Spirit) speaking to his human spirit or rational soul. (For details on the difference between these two, see Some Answered Questions, chapter 38.)

Listen to the reading here:

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lament.mp3

The music is by Kevin MacLeod and is taken from the site incompetech.com, which contains royalty-free music. The file used here is loss.mp3, which is found in the New Age Piano section.

If you click on the " read more" link, you'll find the text of the reading and the link to the tablet.

Read more: Baha'u'llah's lament for the Bab

The reality of forgiveness

I was talking with a Christian guy the other day and he suggested that the Jews were forgiven for murdering Jesus because Jesus asked for them to be forgiven when he was on the cross. I couldn't reconcile myself to this idea and it began a long meditation in my mind on the reality of forgiveness.

The suggestion put to me (as I understood it) seemed far too simplistic and na├»ve. I know that I used to struggle with the idea that God actually did punish people for doing bad things. I never used to believe it. But now I do. I was pulled up short when I read the Tablet of Fu'ad, which is published in Summons of the Lord of Hosts, pages 177 to 181. In it, Baha'u'llah describes what happened to one of his persecutors when he died. You can say that the imagery used in the tablet is symbolic, but Baha'u'llah is describing a horrible reality that Fu'ad experienced when he died. Oh yes, as far as I'm concerned, hell is a reality all right—an inner one in the soul—and God does punish. Besides, Baha'u'llah is crystal clear that creation works on the twin pillars of reward and punishment. "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." (Baha'u'llah: Tablets of Baha'u'llah, p 164)

Read more: The reality of forgiveness

Tablet to Salman on Detachment (intro and audio)

Hi everyone,

Here is the recording and introduction to the Tablet to Salman on Detachment. It is a short tablet in which Baha'u'llah discusses the meaning of detachment and, in this context, comments on the situation of the believers who were exiled to Mosul from Baghdad as a result of the scheming of the Persian Ambassador.

Listen to Mark Choveaux's reading of the tablet:

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The translation is by Juan Cole and is at http://www.whoisbahaullah.com/Alison/salman.html.

My introduction to the tablet follows.

Read more: Tablet to Salman on Detachment (intro and audio)

The Protestant work ethic and spiritual wellbeing

I was inspired to pick up on something that Karen said on her blog, Karen's Path. She talks about the fact that she has been working part time over the last few months and that this has been stressful for her. She wonders how people who work full time cope. She says that she can cope with working only part time because she needs space to think: "I never really learned to balance work with all the other obligations in my life. ... I've never been a person who thrives on being busy. I need that space to think." I have thought about this issue a great deal because I am like Karen and go crazy if I am too busy with work. I work part time and try to ensure that I have enough space each day to reflect and do my devotions. When I work full time, I do this at great cost to my spiritual wellbeing.

Read more: The Protestant work ethic and spiritual wellbeing