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Old 10-28-2016, 01:48 PM   #1
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The Joyous Messenger!!

I wanted to start a discussion on one of my favorite topics: Death!!

I’ve wanted to for a while now, tried a few times, but ended up stopping each time. The problem seems I have too many thoughts on the subject of death!! So forgive me if I seem to ramble. I have almost too many thoughts for but one post.

I mention not infrequently that my religious background includes Taoism (heck, even to this day I hold the only book I’ve found superior (IMHO) to the Tao Teh Ching is the Seven Valleys). My exposure to Taoism gave me a very unorthodox view of death.

The odd thing is that Taoism doesn’t really have an answer for what happens after death. Well, it does have an answer, but the major Taoist philosophers largely seem to brush aside the question as irrelevant to their overall point on the subject.

The fact that what happens after death is unknown, in fact, is the very reason why Taoism teaches one should never mourn death. Taoism posits that, essentially, you’ve never experienced being dead, only being alive. Therefore, you lack the experience to be able to definitively say that being dead is worse than being alive. If you cannot say for certain that death is worse than life, then loving life and hating death is irrational.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chuang Tzu
How do I know that loving life is not a delusion? How do I know that in hating death I am not like a man who, having left home in his youth, has forgotten the way back?

Lady Li was the daughter of the border guard of Ai. When she was first taken captive and brought to the state of Chin, she wept until her tears drenched the collar of her robe. But later, when she went to live in the palace of the ruler, shared his couch with him, and ate the delicious meats of his table, she wondered why she had ever wept. How do I know that the dead do not wonder why they ever longed for life?
Taoism, in Baha’i terms, is primarily about Unity. Not just the typically Unity we think of, like Unity of mankind, Unity of religions, Unity of races, Unity of nations, but the more mystical applications of Unity as well, Unity of good and evil, Unity of light and dark, Unity of hot and cold, even Unity of “is” and “is not”. Taoism, through the symbol of the yin and yang, teaches that all things are in Unity, and that the divisions we see between things are only imagined. As one Taoist teacher told me (paraphrasing) “When you look at the taiji (yin and yang symbol) you might see two things, the yin and yang, because one part is black and the other is white. But this isn’t actually true, it’s simply one symbol. That which you perceive as two is really one.”

Through the concept of Unity, we can also understand Life and Death as being in a Unified state: we can understand life and death as one, merely two arbitrary classifications of the singular human existence.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chuang Tzu
Since life and death are each other's companions, why worry about them? All beings are one.
I posit that the division we as mankind have created between life and death is the source of suffering and mourning over death. Seeing life and death as separate instead of Unified causes us to view one as better than the other. The majority of those who buy into this division think that life is the better of death, and thus mourn when someone becomes dead. The minority of those who believe in a division between life and death who believe death the superior half are the suicides of the world, seeking to hasten the change to what they assume is the better part of human existence.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chuang Tzu
Lao Tan said, "Why don't you just make him see that life and death are the same story, that acceptable and unacceptable are on a single string? Wouldn't it be well to free him from his handcuffs and fetters?"
If death and life can be understood and accepted as merely changing parts of a singular whole, what need would we have to mourn death anymore than we would mourn a change of clothing?? What need would we have to hide from death or rush headlong towards it??

The Taoist Chuang Tzu (who I’ve been quoting quite a lot, bear with me ) thought of death as not something that should be mourned, but celebrated as merely a changing part of human existence altogether.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chuang Tzu
Upon hearing of the death of Chuang Tzu's wife, his good friend Hui Tzu went over to comfort him and found the sage sitting on the ground banging on an overturned pot and singing a song at the top of his lungs.

Horrified at such behavior, Hui Tzu reproved him, saying, 'This woman has lived with you, borne your children, grown old with you and now she has died. It is bad enough not to be weeping at this time but to be out here banging on a pot and singing is too much!’

Chuang Tzu replied, 'You are mistaken my friend, at first I could not help but feel sad and depressed at my beloved wife's death. But then I began to reflect. In the beginning, she had no life, and having no life she had no spirit, and having no spirit she had no body. But then she was given life, she was given a spirit and then she was given a body. Now things have changed again and she is dead. She has joined the great cycle of the seasons. Now she lies suspended between heaven and earth. Why then should I weep and moan over her. It would be as though I did not understand the process of life. Therefore I stopped and decided to celebrate.
Indeed Baha’u’llah himself says that death is nothing to mourn, and equates the mourning of death with veiling yourself off from the light of God, in what is as of this moment my favorite single writing of his:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Baha'u'llah, Hidden Words
O SON OF THE SUPREME! I have made death a messenger of joy to thee. Wherefore dost thou grieve? I made the light to shed on thee its splendor. Why dost thou veil thyself therefrom?
Again, this is now my favorite single verse from Baha’u’llah, as it expresses so much about how I’ve come to view the subject of death in a rather beautiful and poetic way!!

Now there are a lot of people on this planet who both believe in life after death (often believing that the afterlife is superior to life, even), who still mourn death and see it as somehow bad. As someone with a genuine interest in what people believe and learning why they believe what they believe, and as someone with a passionate interest in the subject of death, I’ve made an effort to understand why these people mourn.

It’s been kind of difficult to research this topic. Mainly because to a good portion, mourning death is “common sense” and “natural”. And in a sense, they are right. Human beings have a natural, inborn view of death as bad. It’s one of many instincts that helped early humans survive. But, like many of those survival instincts, like tribalism, rage, and gossip, just because this view of death is natural doesn’t mean this view is correct or good. Additionally, because of the feelings on the topic, it is necessary to tread carefully with these sorts of inquiries to avoid hurting anyone.

The best rationalization I’ve found for a simultaneous mourning of death and belief in eternal life is that they aren’t mourning the person’s change in living status, they are mourning their temporary separation from that person. I can fully understand this view, in that if someone believes there is a separation between the living and the dead, that death would be a bad thing since it brings about this separation.

Except, as Baha’i Faith teaches, this isn’t actually the case:

Quote:
Originally Posted by ‘Abdu’l-Baha, London
Those who have ascended have different attributes from those who are still on earth, yet there is no real separation. In prayer there is a mingling of station, a mingling of condition. Pray for them as they pray for you!
‘Abdu’l-Baha states that there is no real separation between the living and the dead. Like the yin and yang, the separation is merely perceived and imagined, not a separation in actuality. According to ‘Abdu’l-Baha, we are never separated from the dead, and we can affect and interact with the dead through prayer, and the dead can likewise affect the living (which is a bit spooky, to be honest ).

Quote:
Originally Posted by ‘Abdu’l-Baha, Paris
Yes, surely! since sincere prayer always has its effect, and it has a great influence in the other world. We are never cut off from those who are there. The real and genuine influence is not in this world but in that other.
So with the Baha’i teachings in mind, someone going on a vacation for a week should be mourned more strongly than someone’s death should be mourned. The vacation is literally the more significant separation!!

Overall I haven’t viewed death as bad or mourned it in several years. Though this unorthodox view has made certain things a bit challenging, as honestly I’m not entirely sure how to relate too or understand those who are grieving about the subject of death any longer. I know one person who has had their faith in God challenged by death, and I’m not sure how I would even begin consoling them. Their view of death is so significantly different than my own, I’m not sure how I’d even approach the topic.

Final, partially related tangent: I feel really sorry for Azrael/’Izra’il (however you wish to spell it). Back when I studied angelology, he became my favorite angel purely because of how bizarre his appearance was described (his appearance involves many eyeballs and tongues). He’s my favorite angel to the extent that he’s appeared in at least two dreams I remember . But, alas, as the Archangel of Death, in Judaism, Christianity, Islam, the Baha’i Faith, and Sikhism, he gets little love. Despite the fact that no religion portrays ‘Izra’il as anything but a virtuous being, every popular culture portrayal of him is made to be evil. Because people think death is so bad that even angels associated with the topic must also be bad, I guess. It’s unfortunate.

And now I leave you all with another quote/parable I couldn’t figure out how to work into the above:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chuang Tzu
When Chuang Tzu went to Ch'u, he saw an old skull, all dry and parched. He poked it with his carriage whip and then asked, "Sir, were you greedy for life and forgetful of reason, and so came to this? Was your state overthrown and did you bow beneath the ax, and so came to this? Did you do some evil deed and were you ashamed to bring disgrace upon your parents and family, and so came to this? Was it through the pangs of cold and hunger that you came to this? Or did your springs and autumns pile up until they brought you to this?"

When he had finished speaking, he dragged the skull over and, using it for a pillow, lay down to sleep.

In the middle of the night, the skull came to him in a dream and said, "You chatter like a rhetorician and all your words betray the entanglements of a living man. The dead know nothing of these! Would you like to hear a lecture on the dead?"

"Indeed," said Chuang Tzu.

The skull said, "Among the dead there are no rulers above, no subjects below, and no chores of the four seasons. With nothing to do, our springs and autumns are as endless as heaven and earth. A king facing south on his throne could have no more happiness than this!"

Chuang Tzu couldn't believe this and said, "If I got the Arbiter of Fate to give you a body again, make you some bones and flesh, return you to your parents and family and your old home and friends, you would want that, wouldn't you?"

The skull frowned severely, wrinkling up its brow. "Why would I throw away more happiness than that of a king on a throne and take on the troubles of a human being again?" it said.

Last edited by Walrus; 10-28-2016 at 01:54 PM.
 
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Old 10-28-2016, 08:37 PM   #2
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This is a great topic ! Am up on the front range enjoying the blessings of my dear grand children right now, but I get home next week and will post some of my favorite writings on this subject. Like you I do not sorrow for those that pass on, this is a joyous occasion for them. It is I who must work on my selfish wish to have them physically in my life, and I am getting better at that. And I do converse with and love with all my heart my brother who passed at only sixty. And I don't make him into a perfect soul or remember him as a faultless person, he is who he always was, he is just around the corner. Same with others who I love and hold in great affection. They are not gone from my life. Hard to explain. The older I get, the longer my prayers have become because of praying for all those who have become denizens of the Abha' Kingdom those that I love and know their names, and then there is praying for all those unknown to you, Baha'i or not, it snowballs... But I truly feel the need to pray for all. We here left in this world need their prayers and assistance. Probably not making sense but I feel much passion about the need to pray for those who have departed this plane of existance and a great sense of urgency about its importance.

Loving regards,
Becky
 
Old 10-29-2016, 05:18 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Walrus View Post
The best rationalization Iíve found for a simultaneous mourning of death and belief in eternal life is that they arenít mourning the personís change in living status, they are mourning their temporary separation from that person. I can fully understand this view, in that if someone believes there is a separation between the living and the dead, that death would be a bad thing since it brings about this separation.

Except, as Bahaíi Faith teaches, this isnít actually the case:
From this I get the impression you believe mourning the dead results from a faulty view of death? Abdu'l-Baha mourned when the Bab's body was brought to Haifa. Baha'u'llah also mourned over the death of Mirza Mihdhi. He writes his death caused "the Concourse on high to lament".
 
Old 10-31-2016, 07:28 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ahanu View Post
From this I get the impression you believe mourning the dead results from a faulty view of death? Abdu'l-Baha mourned when the Bab's body was brought to Haifa. Baha'u'llah also mourned over the death of Mirza Mihdhi. He writes his death caused "the Concourse on high to lament".
Was the mourning over the death itself or from something else? Perhaps it was mourning a loss of the good that could have been done if Mirza Mihdhi had remained in this world?? Or mourning the suffering the Bab had to endure?

For the writings say:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Baha'u'llah, Hidden Words
O SON OF THE SUPREME! I have made death a messenger of joy to thee. Wherefore dost thou grieve? I made the light to shed on thee its splendor. Why dost thou veil thyself therefrom?
And it would be seemingly absurd for the Concourse on High to mourn someone joining their ranks unless something else is the technical object of mourning.
 
Old 11-03-2016, 07:08 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ahanu View Post
From this I get the impression you believe mourning the dead results from a faulty view of death? Abdu'l-Baha mourned when the Bab's body was brought to Haifa. Baha'u'llah also mourned over the death of Mirza Mihdhi. He writes his death caused "the Concourse on high to lament".
An analogy I thought of to try to explain why the death of a saintlike person could cause "the Concourse on high to lament".

Say you have a friend. The friend goes off to do charitable work and good deeds in a foreign country. However, the foreign country is corrupt, and as a result of the mechanations of local corrupt officials, after two years of service to this foreign land, your friend finds himself forcibly deported and barred from entering the foreign country ever again.

Now your friend is coming home, and after two long years, you will see them once more!!

That, in itself, homecoming and reunification, is nothing to mourn. The circumstances around the homecoming, however, are something to mourn. Your friend has lost the ability to serve the people he loved.

For the Concourse on High, being the accumulation of angels, saints, and deceased holy persons, the death of Mirza Mihdi meant that he would join them. Certainly, devoid of the context of his death, this would be a happy occasion for the Concourse!!

I'd propose that, in the case of Mirza Mihdi, the Bab, and certain other significant deaths, the reason for mourning is not the death itself, but the circumstances surrounding the death.

For the two examples of death mourned that you give, the Bab was tortured before he was violently executed, in a fairly messy method of execution. Mirza Mihdi fell through a skylight onto a wooden crate, the force of impact shattering the crate and causing his lungs to be impaled on the shrapnel, the process of death taking until the next day to complete.

Truly, is there any reason to mourn an individual entering the Concourse on High?? With Abdu'l-Baha assuring us that the dead are not separated from the living, I cannot conceive of a reason that mourning the death itself would be a logical thing to do.

However, mourning the circumstances of certain deaths, that is another manner. Both examples you give had rather painful ends, filled with suffering. It makes sense for the Concourse on High to mourn the terrible, drawn out death of Mirza Mihdi, not for the fact that he joined them as a result, but for the fact of how much pain came along with the transition.

Ultimately, do we mourn and value the sacrifice of a martyr for entering into the bliss of heaven or do we mourn and value his sacrifice for the suffering he endured on earth??
 
Old 11-03-2016, 08:33 PM   #6
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The souls of the children of the Kingdom, after their separation from the body, ascend unto the realm of everlasting life. But if ye ask as to the place, know ye that the world of existence is a single world, although its stations are various and distinct. For example, the mineral life occupieth its own plane, but a mineral entity is without any awareness at all of the vegetable kingdom, and indeed, with its inner tongue denieth that there is any such kingdom. In the same way a vegetable entity knoweth nothing of the animal world, remaining completely heedless and ignorant hereof, for the stage of the animal is higher than that of the vegetable, and the vegetable is veiled from the animal world and inwardly denieth the existence of that world--all this while animal, vegetable and mineral dwell together in the one world. In the same way the animal remaineth totally unaware of that power of the human mind which graspeth universal ideas and layeth bare the secrets of creation -- so that a man who liveth in the east can make plans and arrangements for the west; can unravel mysteries; although located on the continent of Europe can discover America; although sited on the earth can lay hold of the inner realities of the stars of heaven. Of this power of discovery which belongeth to the human mind, this power which can grasp abstract and universal ideas, the animal remaineth totally ignorant, and indeed denieth its existence.
In the same way, the denizens of this earth are completely unaware of the world of the Kingdom and deny the existence thereof. They ask, for example: "Where is the Kingdom? Where is the Lord of the Kingdom?" These people are even as the mineral and the vegetable, who know nothing whatever of the animal and the human realm; they see it not; they find it not. Yet the mineral, the animal and the man, are all living here together in this world of existence.
..........the tests and trials of God take place in this world, not in the world of the Kingdom ......
,...........,.....,,.............................. ......................,........................... .................................................. ................ the center of the Sun of Truth is in the supernal world--the Kingdom of God. Those souls who are pure and unsullied, upon the dissolution of their elemental frames, hasten away to the world of God, and that world is within this world. The people of this world, however, are unaware of that world, and are even as the mineral and the vegetable that know nothing of the world of the animal and the world of man.

Selected Writings of Abdu'l-Baha' pgs 193-194


Those who have ascended have different attributes from those who are still on earth, yet there is no real separation.
In prayer there is a mingling of station, a mingling of condition. Pray for them as they pray for you!

Abdu'l-Baha' in London pg 96


The nature of the soul after death can never be described, nor is it meet and permissable to reveal its whole character to the eyes of men. The Prophets and Messengers of God have been sent down for the sole purpose of guiding mankind to the straight Path of Truth. The purpose underlying Their revelation hath been to educate all men, that they may, at the hour of death, ascend, in the utmost purity and sanctity and with absolute detachment, to the throne of the Most High. The light which these souls radiate is responsible for the progress of the world and the advancement of its peoples. They are like unto leaven which leaveneth the world of being, and constitute the animating force through which the arts and wonders of the world are made manifest. Through them the clouds rain their bounty upon men, and the earth bringeth forth its fruits. All things must needs have a cause, a motive power, an animating principle. These souls and symbols of detachment have provided, and will continue to provide, the supreme moving impulse in the world of being.

Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, pgs 156-157


Death is a gift.....we should look forward to it when it comes and bring ourselves to account as we cannot know when our moment will be. We need to live our lives in a way that brings blessings to others and our Faith. What we can do is be a better person tomorrow than we were today. And, we need to remember to pray for those in the Kingdom!

Loving regards,
Becky
 
Old 11-04-2016, 11:36 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by becky View Post
Death is a gift.....we should look forward to it when it comes and bring ourselves to account as we cannot know when our moment will be. We need to live our lives in a way that brings blessings to others and our Faith. What we can do is be a better person tomorrow than we were today. And, we need to remember to pray for those in the Kingdom!

Loving regards,
Becky
Thanks for the great quotes!!
 
Old 11-07-2016, 02:09 PM   #8
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As the spirit of man after putting off this material form has an everlasting life, certainly any existing being is capable of making progress; therefore, it is permitted to ask for advancement, forgiveness, mercy, beneficence and blessings for a man after his death because existence is capable of progression. That is why in the prayers of Baha'u'llah forgiveness and remission of sins are asked for those who have died. Moreover, as people in this world are in need of God, they will also need Him in the other world. The creatures are always in need, and God is absolutely independent, whether in this world or the world to come.
The wealth of the other world is nearness to God. Consequently, it is certain that those who are near the Divine Court are allowed to intercede, and this intercession is approved by God. But intercession in the other world is not like intercession in this world. It is an other thing, another reality, which cannot be expressed in words.

Abdu'l-Baha', Some Answered Questions, p. 231
 
Old 11-07-2016, 02:44 PM   #9
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Death! What a great topic! That's what life is all about. In this era, however, a new question needs to be raised: Is there life before Death?

Best

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Old 11-07-2016, 09:29 PM   #10
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Death! What a great topic! That's what life is all about. In this era, however, a new question needs to be raised: Is there life before Death?

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from

gnat
Most definitly dear Gnat. True Life begins when, as the Bible Says, a person is Born Again. This is the acceptance of the Messenger and then clinging to the hem of His Robe.

Behold the Candle

"Great mercy and blessings are promised to the people of your land, but on one condition; that their hearts be filled with the fire of love, that they live in perfect harmony and kindness like one soul in different bodies. Never forget this; look at one another with the eye of perfection; look at me, follow me, be as I am; take no thought for yourselves or your lives, whether ye eat or whether ye sleep, whether ye are comfortable, whether ye are well or ill, whether ye are with friends or foes, whether ye receive praise or blame; for all these things ye must care not at all. Look at me and be as I am; ye must die to yourselves and to the world, so ye shall be born again and enter the kingdom of heaven. Behold the candle, how it gives light. It weeps its life away drop by drop in order to give forth its flame of light."
('Abdu'l-Baha, Compilations, Baha'i Scriptures, p. 503)

Regards Tony
 
Old 11-07-2016, 11:37 PM   #11
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Most definitly dear Gnat. True Life begins when, as the Bible Says, a person is Born Again. This is the acceptance of the Messenger and then clinging to the hem of His Robe.

Regards Tony
Are you quite sure? Looking at the presidential election of the United States, I could of course agree that people engaging in such calumny and slander have some kind of "life", but compared e g to the dignified lives of any cat and dog, I hesitate to call it by that name.

Best

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Old 11-08-2016, 12:15 AM   #12
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Are you quite sure?

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Yes dear friend quite sure.

The world is learning a lot from what is happening in the World. We are told America will teach us great lessons ( my understandings of the warnings).

We are seeing the Old World Order as it falls apart not knowing it is ill, the time approaches when the sickness of the Old Order will be obvious and it will seek its remedy.

Everything is drawing us into the vortex of Gods Love and Oneness. Hang on to that robe Gnat, it will be some ride.

Our strength is Abdul'baha and His instrucrion to us - Look at me, follow me, be as I am.

Regards Tony
 
Old 11-08-2016, 12:50 AM   #13
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Yes dear friend quite sure.

The world is learning a lot from what is happening in the World. We are told America will teach us great lessons ( my understandings of the warnings).

Regards Tony
Indeed. The Jews learned a lot from the Holocaust. An in a few hundred years, the world will be a pretty decent place.

gnat
 
Old 11-08-2016, 01:44 AM   #14
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Indeed. The Jews learned a lot from the Holocaust. An in a few hundred years, the world will be a pretty decent place.

gnat
Dear Gnat - I feel it is a pretty decent place here and now, it is written that all of Gods Messengers Longed to be born in this day, there is great wisdom in that;

SPIRITUAL SPRING

Do ye know in what cycle ye are created and in what age ye exist? This is the age of the Blessed Perfection and this is the time of the Greatest Name! This is the century of the Manifestation, the age of the Sun of the Horizons and the beautiful springtime of His Holiness the Eternal One!
The earth is in motion and growth; the mountains, hills and prairies are green and pleasant; the bounty is overflowing; the mercy universal; the rain is descending from the cloud of mercy; the brilliant Sun is shining; the full moon is ornamenting the horizon of ether; the great ocean-tide is flooding every little stream; the gifts are successive; the favors consecutive; and the refreshing breeze is blowing, wafting the fragrant perfume of the blossoms. Boundless treasure is in the hand of the King of Kings! Lift the hem of thy garment in order to receive it.
If we are not happy and joyous at this season, for what other season shall we wait and for what other time shall we look?
This is the time for growing; the season for joyous gathering! Take the cup of the Testament in thy hand; leap and dance with ecstasy in the triumphal procession of the Covenant! Lay your confidence in the everlasting bounty, turn to the presence of the generous God; ask assistance from the Kingdom of AbhŠ; seek confirmation from the Supreme World; turn thy vision to the horizon of eternal wealth; and pray for help from the Source of Mercy!
Soon shall ye see the friends attaining their longed-for destination and pitching their tents, while we are but in the first day of our journey.
This period of time is the Promised Age, the assembling of the human race to the “Resurrection Day” and now is the great “Day of Judgment.” Soon the whole world, as in springtime, will change its garb. The turning and falling of the autumn leaves is past; the bleakness of the winter time is over. The new year hath appeared and the spiritual springtime is at hand. The black earth is becoming a verdant garden; the deserts and mountains are teeming with red flowers; from the borders of the wilderness the tall grasses are standing like advance guards before the cypress and jessamine trees; while the birds are singing among the rose branches like the angels in the highest heavens, announcing the glad-tidings of the approach of that spiritual spring, and the sweet music of their voices is causing the real essence of all things to move and quiver"

Be Happy, Be Happy, Be full of Joy Gnat.

Allah'u'abha World

Regards Tony
 
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