Alison Marshall's Column

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

Matthew 9:2-6

"And behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed, and Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, be of good cheer, thy sins be forgiven thee. And behold, certain of the scribes said within themselves, This man blasphemeth. And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts? For whether is easier to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee, or to say, Arise and walk? But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to give sins." Matthew 9:2-6

"It is also recorded in the Gospel according to St. Luke [Cf. Luke 5:18-26.], that on a certain day Jesus passed by a Jew who was sick of the palsy, and lay upon a couch. When the Jew saw Him, he recognized Him, and cried out for His help. Jesus said unto him: 'Arise from thy bed; thy sins are forgiven thee.' Certain of the Jews, standing by, protested saying: 'Who can forgive sins, but God alone?' And immediately He perceived their thoughts, Jesus answering said unto them: 'Whether is it easier to say to the sick of the palsy, arise, and take up thy bed, and walk; or to say, thy sins are forgiven thee? that ye may know that the Son of Man hath power on earth to forgive sins.' This is the real sovereignty, and such is the power of God's chosen Ones!" Baha'u'llah: Kitab-i-Iqan, pp 133-134

Alison's original blog entry...

Matthew 8:21-22

"And another of his disciples said unto him, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. But Jesus said unto him, Follow me and let the dead bury their dead." Matthew 8:21-22

"Such things have come to pass in the days of every Manifestation of God. Even as Jesus said: 'Ye must be born again.'[John 3:7] Again He saith: 'Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.'[John 3:5-6] The purport of these words is that whosoever in every dispensation is born of the Spirit and is quickened by the breath of the Manifestation of Holiness, he verily is of those that have attained unto 'life' and 'resurrection' and have entered into the 'paradise' of the love of God. And whosoever is not of them, is condemned to 'death' and 'deprivation,' to the 'fire' of unbelief, and to the 'wrath' of God. In all the scriptures, the books and chronicles, the sentence of death, of fire, of blindness, of want of understanding and hearing, hath been pronounced against those whose lips have tasted not the ethereal cup of true knowledge, and whose hearts have been deprived of the grace of the holy Spirit in their day. Even as it hath been previously recorded: 'Hearts have they with which they understand not.'[Qur?an 7:178]

In another passage of the Gospel it is written: And it came to pass that on a certain day the father of one of the disciples of Jesus had died. That disciple reporting the death of his father unto Jesus, asked for leave to go and bury him. Whereupon, Jesus, that Essence of Detachment, answered and said: 'Let the dead bury their dead.' [Luke 9:60] ?

In every age and century, the purpose of the Prophets of God and their chosen ones hath been no other but to affirm the spiritual significance of the terms 'life,' 'resurrection,' and 'judgment.'" Behold, all the people are imprisoned within the tomb of self, and lie buried beneath the nethermost depths of worldly desire! Wert thou to attain to but a dewdrop of the crystal waters of divine knowledge, thou wouldst readily realize that true life is not the life of the flesh but the life of the spirit. For the life of the flesh is common to both men and animals, whereas the life of the spirit is possessed only by the pure in heart who have quaffed from the ocean of faith and partaken of the fruit of certitude. This life knoweth no death, and this existence is crowned by immortality. Even as it hath been said: "He who is a true believer liveth both in this world and in the world to come." If by 'life' be meant this earthly life, it is evident that death must needs overtake it."

Baha'u'llah: Kitab-i-Iqan, pp 118-121

Alison's original blog entry...

The choice

We have learned from Abdu'l-Baha that, in meditation, we abstract ourselves from this world and focus on the spiritual world - the Sun of Reality that is Baha'u'llah. We do this because the soul is like a mirror, which reflects whatever is put in front of it. So in meditation and worship, we put the Word in front of us and, in that way, come to reflect the Sun of Reality.

At the heart of this scenario is the fact that we have to make a choice about what to focus our attention on. We can't reflect both worlds at the same time. Remember the analogy Abdu'l-Baha gave us: a person who is meditating has their outer eyes closed; you can't see with your inner sight if your outer one is still working.

Baha'u'llah puts an interesting slant on this idea that we have to choose:

Read more: The choice

Meditation and worship

On my last blog message, I quoted extensively from Abdu'l-Baha. In his talk, he described the process we need to follow in order to grow spiritually. He explained that meditation was crucial for attaining eternal life because, in meditation, we abstract ourselves from this world by closing off our outer sight and concentrating solely on our inner sight. This process causes us to turn our souls toward the spiritual world. This is important because our souls are like mirrors, which means that they reflect whatever is put in front of them. If we put worldly things in front of them, then they will reflect worldly things. If we turn out attention to the spiritual realities - that is, the reality of the Word - then we will reflect that reality.

This admonishment to close our eyes to this world and open them to the spiritual world is everywhere in the writings. Baha'u'llah says it so often that it is easy to miss. And it takes some thought to figure out what he means by it and why it is important to do it.

Read more: Meditation and worship