Baha'u'llah's Early Mystic Writings notes

Jul 2017
Kettering, Ohio USA
He is interested in accomplishing two things -- he would like in the European languages to have as much uniformity with the English translations as possible; he does not wish the Bahá'í translations to be in any way a flagrant violation of the rules of the language into which our literature is being translated.

Your Committee must conscientiously study this question, and then do the best you can to have the Bahá'í literature in French meet the high standards of the French language and grammar.
(15 February 1957 to the National Translation and Publication Committee of France)[1]

The matter of translation is a major problem. As you yourself know only too well, to convey exactly the meaning and flavour of a passage from one language to another is often impossible and one can but labour to approach as near as possible to the unattainable perfection. Even our Beloved Guardian, whose skill in this art amounted to genius, characterized his translation of the "Kitáb-i-Iqán" as "one more attempt to introduce to the West, in language however inadequate, this book of unsurpassed pre-eminence among the writings of the Author of the Bahá'í Revelation, and he expressed the hope "that it may assist others in their efforts to approach what must always be regarded as the unattainable goal -- a befitting rendering of Bahá'u'lláh's matchless utterance."

The difficulty of translation increases when two languages express the thoughts and metaphors of widely differing cultures; thus, it is infinitely more difficult for a European to conceive the thought patterns expressed in Arabic or Persian than to understand a passage written in English. Moreover, the Beloved Guardian was not only a translator but the inspired Interpreter of the Holy Writings; thus, where a passage in Persian or Arabic could give rise to two different expressions in English he would know which one to convey. Similarly he would be much better equipped than an average translator to know which metaphor to employ in English to express a Persian metaphor which might be meaningless in literal translation.

Thus, in general, speakers of other European tongues will obtain a more accurate translation by following the Guardian's English translation than by attempting at this stage in Bahá'í history to translate directly from the original.

This does not mean, however, that the translators should not also check their translations with the original texts if they are familiar with Persian or Arabic. There may be many instances where the exact meaning of the English text is unclear to them and this can be made evident by comparison with the original.
(From a letter dated 8 December 1964 written by the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer) [2]

A translation should of course be as true as possible to the original while being in the best possible style of the language into which it is being translated. However, you should realize that it will not be possible to translate the Tablets adequately into easy, modern Dutch. Many of the original Writings of Bahá'í and 'Abdu'l-Bahá are written in very exalted and poetic Persian and Arabic and therefore a similar flavour should be attempted in the language into which it is translated. You will see, for example, that in translating the Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh into English the beloved Guardian has created a very beautiful and poetic style in English using many words which might be considered archaic and are reminiscent of the English used by the translators of the King James Version of the Bible.

As you point out, a literal translation is often a bad one because it can produce a phraseology of imagery that would convey the wrong impression; thus, a translator is at times compelled to convey the meaning of the original by means of a form of words suited to the language. However, a person translating the Bahá'í Writings must always bear in mind that he or she is dealing with the Word of God, and, when striving to convey the meaning of the original, he should exert his utmost to make his rendering both faithful and befitting.
(From a letter dated 29 October 1973 written by the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer)[3]

Those who are entrusted with the task of translating the Sacred Writings from the original into English should study the original very closely, and then attempt to express as accurately and as beautifully as possible in English that which the original conveys. To do this they frequently have to use various different synonyms in English to give the best translation of the same Arabic or Persian word when it appears in different contexts. Conversely, they may have to use the same English word in different contexts to translate various different words in the original. In doing this they attempt to follow the example set by Shoghi Effendi in his magnificent translations.
(From a letter dated 31 May 1981 written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Translation and Revision Committee of a National Spiritual Assembly.)[4]

With regard to your question about the style of English used in the translation of Bahá'í prayers, we are asked to point out that finding an adequate style in English for expressing beautifully the poetic, metaphorical and allusive style of many of the Bahá'í Scriptures is not easy. The Persian and Arabic of the Bahá'í Writings are themselves considerably different from the current styles and usages in those languages. Shoghi Effendi's solution of using a slightly archaic form of English, which is somewhat equivalent to the use in the original languages, makes possible the use of images and metaphors that might seem strange if expressed in modern English.

Furthermore, styles of writing are changing comparatively rapidly. If it were already found necessary to use a style different from that used for translations fifty years ago, one can estimate that a further change would be called for fifty years hence. One merely has to consider the large number of new translations of the Bible that have appeared, and are still appearing, and yet many English-speaking Christians prefer to continue using the Authorized Version in spite of its proven inaccuracies. Holy Scriptures have a profound meaning for their readers, and to change the familiar words too often can be gravely disturbing.

Books of Scripture themselves mould the language in which they are written. The House of Justice believes that if translators strive to render the words of the Báb, Bahá'u'lláh and 'Abdu'l-Bahá into English in a way that reproduces as accurately as possible the meaning of the originals, that is as beautiful as possible, and that harmonizes closely with the style used by Shoghi Effendi, these Writings themselves will have a far-reaching effect on the ability of Bahá'ís, and especially Bahá'í children and youth, to use the English language effectively for thought and for expression.
(From a letter dated 3 February 1988 written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer)[5]

Of course the most fundamental requirement for the attainment of a good translation is the availability of the translator who has not only a thorough understanding of the original language, but also is able to write in clear and beautiful French, so that he can re-express in French not only the true meaning of the original, but can clothe it in language which appropriately reproduces in the French idiom the beauty of style of the original. While a literal translation is almost inevitably a bad translation, the translator must guard against departing from or adding to the meaning of the original even though he may have to use a phrase to translate a word, or reduce a phrase in the original to one word in the French, or recast the order of a sentence, or replace a metaphor which would be meaningless if translated literally by an equivalent one which conveys the same meaning. In translating Shoghi Effendi's writings in particular, you may find that many of his long sentences, which are perfectly clear in English, are impossible in French and must be divided into shorter ones.

If there is no French-speaking Bahá'í with the requisite command of both languages, or if such friends are over-burdened, you may most certainly employ non-Bahá'í translators. Here, however, you may face another problem, that of the translator's understanding the Bahá'í teachings which underlie the words. It would be essential for you to have such translations carefully checked by knowledgeable Bahá'ís, who can raise with the translator any passages which they feel convey the wrong meaning.

When you are having any of the Sacred Texts translated on the basis of authorized English translations, you should involve in the work one or more Bahá'ís who are fluent in French and are also familiar with the original Arabic or Persian. Thus, when the translator finds he is unable to grasp the exact meaning of the English words, his understanding can be illuminated by reference to the original texts.
(From a letter dated 2 December 1988 written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to Maison d'Editions Bahá'íes)[6]

20,000 tablets revealed over 40+ years. Over 6 million words (480,000 words in English translation). Arabic, Persian, a mix of the two, and “pure” Persian. The “Leiden List” gives names, dates, and revelation data for 513 tablets (when available). We have partial or full translations from maybe 500 tablets only. But we have the longest and most important tablets. Even less is available in other languages.

The Hebrew Bible has about 593,000 words. The New Testament has about 181,000 words; 1,000 to 2,000 words attributed to Jesus. Muhammad’s revelation was partly written and partly oral for about 10 years before the Qur’an was assembled. The Qur’an has about 77,000 words. We have only 2,000 tablets by the Bab (though they contain over 5 million words). We have 5 million words from `Abdu’l-Bahá (30,000 works) and 5 million from Shoghi Effendi (22,000 works).

Bahá’u’lláh starts by talking about the spiritual journey of the individual toward the divine (mysticism). He moves on to talk about metaphysical subjects (nature of God, revelation, afterlife, covenant). He interprets sacred texts. He clarifies the teachings of past religions. He clarifies the teachings of past religions. He proclaims His own mission. He reveals laws and major principles of behavior. He outlines the structure of the Bahá’í community and establishes a Covenant. He delineates the features of a world civilization.

I. Tone of Tablet 1. Tablets with the tone of command and authority. 2. Those with the tone of servitude, meekness and supplication. II. Subject Covered by Tablet 1. Writings dealing with interpretation of the old Scriptures, religious beliefs and doctrines of the past. 2. Writings in which laws and ordinances have been enjoined for this age and laws of the past abrogated. 3. Mystical Writings. 4. Tablets concerning matters of government and world order, and those addressed to the kings. 5. Tablets dealing with subjects of learning and knowledge, divine philosophy, mysteries of creation, medicine, alchemy, etc. 6. Tablets exhorting men to education, goodly character and divine virtues. 7. Tablets dealing with social teachings. In addition to Mázindarání’s nine categories, one can identify the following five literary genres in which tablets fall: 1. Letters to individuals. This is often revealed by epistolary style, in other words, there are greetings to the person, exhortations, and usually an opening and a closing that sound like a letter. categories, one can identify the following five literary genres in which tablets fall: 2. Essays or books revealed as a letter to an individual. This may be difficult to separate from the first category. Among the defining characteristics are length, elaborate arguments, and a complex internal structure (division into chapters or sections). 3. Essays or books, not revealed to a specific person. This category is very rare. 4. Poems. These works are often not translated into English. 5. Prayers.


A Sufi embarks on a quest for mystical experience—that is, coming closer and closer to the presence of God. And Sufis try to live in continual remembrance of God.

Sufi Mystical Experience
Sufism is often referred to as a "journey"or "path" in which the traveler progresses through a number of stations leading to states of ecstasy and rapture. The peak mystical experience may be beatific vision (beholding some aspect of God) or divine audition (hearing the voice of God).
In such exalted states, the Sufi has absolute trust in Allah (the Muslim name for God), transcends earthly desires, and achieves mystical union with God through complete identication with Allah, such that the individual's identity passes away or vanishes, and the mystic achieves a state of "nothingness" in the fullness of God's presence.
Historically, whether or not God can be seen has been a point of controversy between so-called "drunken" Sufis (who believe it is possible to have a vision of God in a peak mystical experience) and the so-called "sober" Sufis (who believe it is impossible to see God). However, most Sufis believe it is entirely possible to experience the all-encompassing divine presence of God on a very personal level.

The Nightingale and the Rose
Three prominent motifs or types of imagery are typically used to narrate the Sufi mystical experience. This is done by way of allegory (a story that uses symbolism to convey a hidden meaning). These motifs are (1) the journey, (2) love, and (3) alchemy. In Sufi literature, the symbolic importance of these motifs is very important.
The interior Sufi journey symbolizes the wandering of the wayfarer on the path to God. "Alchemy" is the soul's transformation along the way. Platonic (nonsexual) but passionate love leads to union with God. The journey and love motifs are intertwined in stories of the quest for the Beloved (God). The nightingale and the rose—the lover and the beloved—is also a popular poetic image. Spiritual love is richly symbolized by the longing of the nightingale for the rose.

Mystic Trailblazers
The earliest Sufis were the trailblazers of the mystic path. One notable Sufi was the 11th-century Abdullah Ansari of Herat in Afghanistan. In 1056 CE, Ansari wrote a book entitled The Stages of the Travelers (or the Book of One Hundred Stages), which was the f9rst work on Sufism written in Persian (or Dari, as Persian was known in Afghanistan), rather than Arabic.
Written in rhyming and rhythmic prose, this Sufi manual, intended to serve as a guide for mystics, set forth 100 separate stages of the mystical journey. Ansar's brief treatise served as a forerunner of Persian mystical manuals that would appear later.

The Language of the Birds
The 13th-century Persian poet Attar wrote a famous Sufi work called The Language of the Birds (also known as The Conference of the Birds). This was an allegory, or symbolic story, about 30 birds (in Persian, simurgh) who go on a quest for a fabulous bird called the Simurgh (representing God). The flock of birds has to traverse seven valleys:
1. Quest (search) 2. Love (of God) 3. Gnosis (insight, knowledge) 4. Detachment (from worldly desires) 5. Unity (with God) 6. Bewilderment (astonishment), and 7. Nothingness (complete identication with God).
After crossing these seven valleys, the 30 birds nally attain the object of their quest. On beholding the Simurgh, the King of Birds turns into a mirror, in which the birds, to their astonishment, see themselves. So the simurgh (30 birds) become one with the Simurgh . The story of this dramatic realization and mystical union became the single most celebrated "word play" in Persian literature. The Language of the Birds is one of the great Sufi classics.
The earliest scholars of Sufism had stressed ways of leading an ascetic life (one that rejects physical pleasure) and defined terms that shaped the inner journey (tariqah) toward Allah. To earn the intimacy of God, Sufis have relied on learning direct knowledge of Allah through rigorous spiritual training by a Sufi sheikh who had already been enlightened by the knowledge of God (marifa). According to the classical Sufi scholars, Sufism's core premise is that Prophet Muhammad was trained by God himself so that the Prophet would embody these inner practices and beliefs and teach his followers. For Sufus there is an outer and inner reading of the world, particularly in the interpretation of the Koran and the customs of Muhammad. For those who desire to understand and experience the inner dimensions of God's speech, Sufis have argued for studying the hidden outer and inner meanings of the Koran. For Sufis, Muhammad is the mystical exemplar and major focus for meditations, veneration, and invocations. Sufis organized themselves into brotherhoods or orders that were highly structured so disciples could be trained in the mystical journey. Unlike Christian monastic orders, members of Sufi orders did not have to take vows of celibacy, nor were they under the supervision of a central authority like the pope. Each Sufi order was based on the teachings and authority of the Sufi teacher, who needed to have a lineage to the Prophet Muhammad. Sufi disciples were given specic instructions on how to pray with more attention, to bring more love to their lives, to direct their wealth toward the poor, and to learn spiritual exercises for enlightenment.

Today, Sufism is a universal Islamic phenomenon, completely independent of the historical Sunni/Shia split among Muslims. Affiliation with a Sufi order may therefore overlap with Sunni and Shia identities. In other words, for some Muslims, identifying with a Sufi order is simply another layer of identity.

Sufism is closely associated with popular religion, and Sufi religious "orders" are still vital to religious life in much of the Islamic world. In sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, for instance, it is quite common for Muslim males to join a local Sufi "order" or brotherhood.
Elsewhere in the Muslim world, however, Muslims tend not to identify themselves as Sufis. Ironically, many non-Muslim Americans and Europeans today are attracted to Sufism, and may loosely identify themselves as Sufis.
Jul 2017
Kettering, Ohio USA
Unit 2

(1a) A gentle Outpour is descending from ‘the Hidden and Unknowable Essence of God’2 through Our captivating Self;
(1b) The Mystery of God’s Covenant is streaming forth from Our melodious Chant.

(2a) From the easterly wind there hath appeared the Musk of Cathay3;
(2b) And ’tis from Our curling Locks that this Sweet-Scented Breeze is wafting.
(3a) The adorning Sun [of the All-Glorious] hath dawned [and is beaming] from the Countenance of His Manifestation of Truth;
(3b) Behold the Mystery of God [hitherto concealed, now re]manifested in Thá4!

(4a) The Wave of ‘attainment unto the divine Presence’5 hath stirred up the Sea of Purity to cry out;
(4b) And ’tis from Há’s6 captivating Self that this ‘wondrously rare Favour’7 is raining down.

(5a) The Treasure [trove] of [God’s] love hath remained concealed in the breast of Fá8;
(5b) From this [Hidden] Treasure of love the [precious] Pearl of the Covenant glisteneth forth.

(6a) Through a mere Glance9 all [things] have fallen into an inebriated Ecstasy;
(6b) This Sweetly Beautiful Mystery poureth forth through the ‘resounding Cry of Rá10’!

(7a) The Blast of the Trumpet11! Láhút’s12 Captivating Power13!
(7b) Both are descending from Heaven above, through a single breath!

(8a) From Our Countenance the dispensation of “I am He” is now manifest;
(8b) The Cycle of “He is He” hath appeared through the overflowing Bá14.

(9a) From the Chalice of the Heart the ‘Heavenly River of Truth’15 hath appeared;
(9b) This Cup of Honey is dripping from the ruby lips of Bahá.

(10a) The Day of God hath been fulfilled through the appearance of the Lord!
(10b) This beauteous Utterance cometh down from the melodious Voice of ?á16.

(11a) See [the heart of] Bahá overflowing! Behold ‘the Hidden and Unknowable Essence of God’ gently Outpouring; (11b) In synchronous harmony, they both descend from God’s [mellifluous] Chant.

(12a) See the ‘Eternal Fish’17! Behold the ‘Holy Flower of the Hallowed Palm-Tree’18
(12b) Observe the ‘Immaculate Heart’19 descending from the All-Highest Throne!

(13a) See the ‘Sacred úbá Tree’20! Behold the Cooing of the [Celestial] Dove!
(13b) Perceive the melodic Voice of Abhá descending from the ‘[dazzling] Flash of Purity’21!

(14a) See the ‘Iráqí Song! Behold the ¥ijází22 Tambourine!
(14b) Hear the sound of the Divine Hand from the ‘Clapping of Lá’23!

(15a) See the ‘Celestial Beauty’24! Behold the ‘Supernal Maid of Heaven’25!
(15b) Observe the ‘Corporal Splendour’26 descending from the Mystery of ‘the Hidden and Unknowable Essence of God’!

(16a) See the Everlasting Countenance! Behold the Face of the Cupbearer!
(16b) Witness the ‘Crystal Clear Waters’27 pouring out from Our Cup!

(17a) See the Fire of Moses! Behold the ‘resplendent White Light’28!
(17b) Observe the ‘Heart of Sinai’29 descending from ‘the Palm of the Hand of the All-Glorious’30.

(18a) See the wailing of the drunkards! Behold the ‘condition of the captive ones’31!
(18b) Observe the ‘enamouring power of the truly alive’32 descending from the realm of ‘attainment unto the divine Presence’!

(19a) See the ‘Enticements of Há’33! Behold the ‘Form and Beauty of Bá’34!
(19b) Listen to the ‘Fá’s resounding Cry’35 reverberating from the Hollow-Reed of Bahá.

(20a) ’Tis the Overflowing of Revelation! ’Tis the gentle Outpouring of the Purifier!
(20b) ’Tis the Warbling of the Birds [of Paradise]! These [one and all] radiate from this Mortal Fountain.

O Cup-Bearer, give me a drop
He is the Glorious
O Cup-Bearer, give me a drop of the mystic Flame,[1] That it may wash my soul from the whispers of the flesh, A drop of water revealing the form of Fire, A sparkle of fire manifesting the celestial Fount. A glimmer of His image fell on the page of the Soul, A hundred Hellenic wisdoms were confounded. A spark of that Flame hit the Tree of Sinai, A hundred Imranite Moseses were astounded. A flame of that Fire turned into Love and pitched[5] Its tents in man’s water and clay and in his heart. Who art Thou, O Love, that ‘cause of Thee the world Is in turmoil and Luqman’s wisdom is envious?

Now Thou boastest: “I’m the Beloved’s splendour in the world.” Now Thou proclaimest: “I’m Myself that Divine Countenance.” Since Thou breathest the Beloved’s fragrance upon the soul, Whatever claim Thou advancest, one might say Thou art much better. Thou art the Companion of the soul, the Sign of the Beloved, From Thee tranquility of spirit cometh, from Thee distress. If a ray from Thy Face shineth on the Divine realms, [10] Thou wilt see a hundred Cananaean Josephs put up for sale. From Thee Joseph’s fragrance bloweth; from Thee the Messianic Spirit; Thou art the white-handed Moses, Thou, the flame on Mount Paran. Bound are the heads by Thy locks, pierced the hearts By Thine anguish, be they of insane laymen or of Divine sages. I’m drunk of Thee, ‘cause of Thee I’m notorious, whether Thou offerest me a hundred lives, or Thou slayest me. If Thou art the Angel of death, how come that Thou revivest me? If Thou art the Reviver of bodies, how is it that Thou actest as a snake? If Thou graciously movest in the court of a king, Thou changest [15] The king into a servant and the servant into a king. A spark of Thy Face fell upon the rose-bush of the soul, And lit its beauty as a crimson tulip. O! What a breeze wafted announcing to the soul the glad tidings

That from the East of the Spirit that Divine Face hath appeared. Souls soared with yearning, hearts were enraptured in ecstasy, Love fell in love with Him, and so did the essence of creation. Through His wisdom, the coincidence of opposites is made manifest, Now Love becometh a servant, now the Intellect a porter. Stop tearing asunder the veil of mystery, O Dervish: A cry riseth from the city of men and the world of brutes.

You, who tend and pour the wine! Let the veil slip off the cheeks that have been cloaked in the Unseen immortal realm 1a
Let me sip that everlasting vintage of the Beauty of the Fashioner 1b
The stuff you keep in wine jugs Could never break love’s debilitating bile 2a
so pour out an ocean’s measure of the wine of inner meaning 2b
Make this veiled and frenzied one begin to shout 3a
Rouse this Lordly drunkard from intoxicated stupor 3b
Light up a fire of love incinerate the entirety of every existence 4a
Come forward step by step on to the lovers’ turf. 4b
You who quest! Until you are effaced of all traces of the universe 5a
you can never sip the wine of that Idol’s succulent ruby lips 5b
Climb on to the apex of this realm then enter Poverty’s sheltering shade 6a
from here your vantage all around will be the Realm Eternal 6b
Do not tread here if your heart’s preoccupied with care for life 7a
but if you have a heart and soul to scatter, come forward with your offering 7b
—such is the custom of the quest if you long for union with Bahá, 8a
but if you are not man enough for such a path be off and trouble me no more! 8b
Now, if you want to know the mysteries of mystic love 9a
open the eye of admonition and close the door to pride 9b
Then you may see the very Mount of Moses move and circumambulate around us here 10a
Then you may see the spirit of Jesus breathless in its love of him 10b
Then you may read the tablet affirming God’s Unicity in the two braids of the Friend 11a
Then you may read the scroll sanctifying God’s Essence in the two cheeks of the Beloved 11b
Here! quaff the wine of bliss from the vivifying fount of love 12a
that you may cast your head in victory at the feet of the Friend 12b
They are dead in this assemblage in the path of the Friend 13a
O Messiah of the age! Inspire us, quick, with your warm reviving breath 13b
That the birds of existence may soar beyond the body’s prison 14a
in the placeless space above to the shelter of Him who holds the power in His hand s 14b
Dervish! The flames of this divine soul- conflagration have consumed the world 15a
It’s now time for you to bring it back to life with this melodious lament 15b

He is the Beloved One

[1] The Maid of Eternity came from the Exalted Paradise;
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, O Glad Tidings!

[2] With harp and with song, with crimson goblet she came;
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, O Glad Tidings!

[3] With amorous glances, with the taste of mystical death — with dance and with song she came;
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, O Glad Tidings!

[4] With musky tresses, with beauteous ruby lips — from nigh unto God, she came;
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, O Glad Tidings!

[5] Two daggers her eyebrows, one hundred arrows from her eyelashes — to pierce our hearts she came;
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, O Glad Tidings!

[6] All souls in her path, all hearts in her embrace — massacred when she came;
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, O Glad Tidings!

[7] With snow-white hand, with raven locks — like the dragon of Moses she came;
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, O Glad Tidings!

[8] This sweet Davidic voice, from the Divine Lote-Tree — with the Messianic Spirit she came;
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, O Glad Tidings!

[9] With the allurement of fidelity, with the protection of Baha' — from the Dawning-Place of "H" she came;
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, O Glad Tidings!

[10] With guiding light from the morn of the Divine Encounter, with Mount Sinai she came;
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, O Glad Tidings!

[11] This song of the spirit came to her lovers from the Nightingale of "No";
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, O Glad Tidings!

[12] With the joyful tidings of reunion this Divine Maiden came from a branch of the Tree of Blessedness;
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, O Glad Tidings!

[13] This annihilated lover, this earthly bird — she came as a sacrifice in the Path of the Beloved;
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, O Glad Tidings!

[14] This sword of oppression, from the Throne of fidelity — she came upon the neck of the Beloved;
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, O Glad Tidings!

[15] This sacred missive, with an Arab messenger — she came from the city of Sheba;
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, O Glad Tidings!

[16] This Eternal Countenance, she came with snow-white hand from the Divine command;
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, O Glad Tidings!

[17] This Hijazi Falcon came with Iraqi accents from the forearm of the King;
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, O Glad Tidings!

[18] This Pardoning Visage, she came with fetching allure from the Court of Nearness;
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, O Glad Tidings!

[19] This Nightingale of mystic meaning, she came from the sacred rose bush with the hand of *ecstasy*;
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, O Glad Tidings!

[20] This luminous page, she came with light and splendour from the Midian of Spirit;
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, O Glad Tidings!

[21] This Witness of the Omnipotent, this heady Wine of the Beloved — she came with the goblet of Sovereignty;
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, O Glad Tidings!

[22] That essence of the Beauty of the True One, that jewel of the Glory of the True One — she came with the Most Great Sign;
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, O Glad Tidings!

[23] That Countenance of the Desired One, that Face of the Adored One — she came with the Most-Supreme Mercy;
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, O Glad Tidings!

[24] The souls to her reunion, the hearts to her Bestowal — as the Most Exalted Lord she hath come!
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, O Glad Tidings!

[25] This Wondrous Remembrance hath come from the Eternal Rosegarden that the lovers of the beauty of the Adored One, hearts and souls burning with love, might, in utmost tranquillity, busy themselves with these wondrous new melodies; that perchance, attracted thereby, the inmates of the Kaaba of gnosis might be shaken with ecstasy and remember their divine and sacred homeland.

(God Passes By, pages 120-121): In the odes He revealed, whilst wrapped in His devotions during those days of utter seclusion, and in the prayers and soliloquies which, in verse and prose, both in Arabic and Persian, poured from His sorrow-laden soul, many of which He was wont to chant aloud to Himself, at dawn and during the watches of the night, He lauded the names and attributes of His Creator, extolled the glories and mysteries of His own Revelation, sang the praises of that Maiden that personified the Spirit of God within Him, dwelt on His loneliness and His past and future tribulations, expatiated upon the blindness of His generation, the perfidy of His friends and the perversity of His enemies, affirmed His determination to arise and, if needs be, offer up His life for the vindication of His Cause, stressed those essential pre-requisites which every seeker after Truth must possess, and recalled, in anticipation of the lot that was to be His, the tragedy of the Imám Husayn in Karbilá, the plight of Muhammad in Mecca, the sufferings of Jesus at the hands of the Jews, the trials of Moses inflicted by Pharaoh and his people and the ordeal of Joseph as He languished in a pit by reason of the treachery of His brothers. These initial and impassioned outpourings of a Soul struggling to unburden itself, in the solitude of a selfimposed exile (many of them, alas lost to posterity) are, with the Tablet of Kullu't-Ta'ám and the poem entitled Rashh-i-'Amá, revealed in Tihrán, the first fruits of His Divine Pen. They are the forerunners of those immortal works - the Kitáb-i-Íqán, the Hidden Words and the Seven Valleys - which in the years preceding His Declaration in Baghdád, were to enrich so vastly the steadily swelling volume of His writings, and which paved the way for a further flowering of His prophetic genius in His epoch-making Proclamation to the world, couched in the form of mighty Epistles to the kings and rulers of mankind, and finally for the last fruition of His Mission in the Laws and Ordinances of His Dispensation formulated during His confinement in the Most Great Prison of 'Akká.

One of the most outstanding events of Bahá'u'lláh's sojourn in Sulaymáníyyih, which captured the hearts of the people, was the revelation in public of a poem in Arabic known as Qasídiy-iVarqá'íyyih. The divines of Sulaymáníyyih requested Bahá'u'lláh to undertake a task, which no one had previously accomplished, of writing a poem in the same rhyme as Qasídiy-i-Ta'íyyih, one of the works of the celebrated Arabic poet Ibn-i-Fárid. Accepting their request, Bahá'u'lláh dictated no less than two thousand verses as He sat in their midst. Amazed at such a revelation, those present were spellbound and lost in admiration at His performance. They acclaimed His verses as far superior in their beauty, lucidity and profundity to the original poem by Ibn-i-Fárid. Knowing that the subject-matter was beyond the people's comprehension, He chose one hundred and twenty-seven verses and allowed them to be copied. If we remember that Bahá'u'lláh was a Persian and that He had not attended a school where the intricacies of the Arabic language were studied, this poem, from the literary point of view alone, stands out as a great testimony to His genius which was born of the Divine Spirit. The words He has used in this poem are very rich in their meanings and as they blend together, they produce a divine orchestra of spiritual melodies. With the use of only one or two words Bahá'u'lláh often makes reference to a verse of the Qur'án or a certain tradition of Islám. In this way, within a line He alludes to and welds together a series of passages from the Qur'án, revealing thereby the mysteries of God's Revelation. Each one of these verses is like an ocean created from many rivers flowing together, and hidden in their depths are innumerable pearls of wisdom and knowledge. After His return to Baghdád, Bahá'u'lláh wrote some footnotes to this poem; in these He gave the meanings in Persian of the difficult words and also interpreted some of its abstruse verses. In two or three instances He even pointed to His own apparent deviation from grammatical rules which, in the circumstances, He clearly justified. The theme of the Qasídiy-i-Varqá'íyyih is the praise and glorification of the Most Great Spirit which had descended upon Him in the symbolic form of the 'Maid of Heaven'. There is a dialogue between Himself as the Bearer of God's Message and the Holy Spirit personified as the Maid of Heaven, whose attributes and splendours He glorifies. For His own part, He dwells on His past sufferings, recounts the cruel fashion in which His enemies had imprisoned Him with chains and fetters, speaks of His grief and loneliness and resolutely affirms His determination to arise and face, with steadfastness and joy, any calamity which might in the future descend upon Him in the path of God.

The poem demonstrates the relationship between the person of the Manifestation of God and the Holy Spirit which animates and sustains Him. It also throws light on the immensity of the spiritual domains of God from which all Revelations have been sent down. Apart from this poem, some prayers and meditations were revealed by Bahá'u'lláh in Kurdistan, which are written in His own hand and have been preserved for posterity. Among them is another poem known as Sáqí-Az-Ghayb-i-Baqá. This is in Persian and again, like other odes of Bahá'u'lláh, is soul-stirring and very beautiful. It expresses His longing for the day when the glory of His Countenance will be unveiled to men and the splendours of His Revelation will shed their light upon them. It affirms that those who desire to attain the light of His Revelation must detach themselves from all earthly things, and warns them that they will be acceptable in His presence only when they are ready to offer up their lives in His path.
Jul 2017
Kettering, Ohio USA
He is the Most Glorious!

Life-force of God's throne,
compassion's sun!
Time's universe
has birthed
no light like Yours!
From seeing God, creation's eyes are barred, [1]
or in few words I'd show the Unseen world
that all souls might pledge fealty to You [2]
that every heart become a thrall to You
that all the world grow drunk and mad with love,
with both hands offering up their willing souls;
Pride of the age!
Just state the word, Your Cause, [3]
and they'll lay scattered at Your blessèd feet
Raise up Your sunny head above souls' peaks
that all from every point may see You plain
Reveal that face bright as the orb of night [4]
make verdant with Your grace this withered straw
From Your ocean, heaven's rivers ask one drop [5]
Let flow paradise, since You are Lord and King!
The atoms beg their share of light from You:
through Your unquestioned boundless grace, illumine!
The seeds turn up their mouths unto the heavens
hoping for Your gifts: anointing glory [6]
Rain the droplets of Your mercy on them
O Ruler of the realms, King of the Throne!
Rend through these curtains of a hundred folds
Regale us now with glimpses of Your face
Pile up provisions for us through Your grace,
for Your munificence is past all doubt.
Make our West light up with global dawn [7]
Spice this drink with cheer like vintage wine
Light up the heart's light with the shafts of light [8]
that they may see in Your face Sinai's lights
Unsheathe the dagger of Divinity
and swiftly slay those hostile to Your Faith
Stoke your Lordly fire, incinerate
the heretics who war against You
They are nocturnal bats; but raise Your head,
O Sun of day, and burn all dark away
Clarify this vintage of grief-tainted dregs [9]
Light up this candle which the night oppressed
You stood up in our soul, the world arose [10]
to make clear through Your cause "Be and it was" [11]
Soul's glory! [12] in remembrance of Your face
I'll speak whole volumes of Your character
to rouse with wisdom all the spirits
to see who'll pay the price for Your love's pearl
I'll strike a conflagration through the world,
consume the veils concealing heaven's holies
I'll lead the Mystic Maiden from her veil,
draw back the curtain from the hidden light
I'll give a hint, since You've returned in spirit,
Of Love's eternal unseen mystery
Soar, fiery bird, through exposition's heaven[13]
till no more sign of being can be seen
Purify these envy-riddled hearts
Guide these consciences which lack all compass [14]
Let those heedless, Great One, of Your covenant,
sip the ancient chalice to regain their wits,
to transport us with Your melodies, my Friend,
past rubrics like "intoxicated," "sober"
Heraldic angel of Bahá! Spirit's Lord! [15]
Inspire the dead with new vitality
He is that primal tree branched from the heart
redeem Him from earthmire, from air and water
that He, released, may transcend form and matter,
His candle may set solar stars ablaze
Plant this tender sapling in the heart's soil
and keep it sacred, safe from sun or shade: [16]
protect it from contrariness of wind,
set free from pagan supposition's hold,
make strong and firm its roots in soil of soul,
and raise its branches past the firmament
Bring anew a new green spring for all to see
raise up the dead for Your Resurrection
Love's oceans all are surging with Your tide,
immortal birds through Your awareness know
From Spirit's Egypt send us that coat's scent [17]
Reveal right here the burning bush of Moses [18]
Your face, my Beauty, sets the spring in motion
and with it, spring brings countless mystic truths: [19]
Each rose, an album of the beauteous Friend
Each heart He fills with God's Edenic grace [20]
No fall will ever overtake such springs [21]
all flowers circumambulate round Him
Such spring as this the soul cannot conceive
Such spring as this reanimates the spirits
For fair-faced youths the mortal springs bring ardour,
while such a spring as this brings love of God
Mortal springs will wane and fade out in the end
Such springs as this we designate "immortal"
Earthly spring arrives in nature's season
This spring basks in light from His breath-taking face [22]
Those earthly springs bring forth the tulip buds
This spring ethereal now fills up with wails [23]
The eternal spring which shines in this King's light
illumines vistas of God's court and throne [24]
All cross the threshold of His court's Pavilion;
You of insight, look, if you have eyes, and see!
When our King casts the veil from off His face,
eternal springs will blossom in the skies [25]
When our Friend casts the cover from His face,
eternal springs will shine with undimmed glory
His face in springs eternal bathes us all
– No garden's rose can draw our eyes from Him
His remembrance blots out thought of treasure [26]
His daystar makes us shine throughout the world
Should breezes touch us from His pleasant spring,
you'll see Joseph after Joseph come in view
Should breezes reach us from this rosy bower,
you'll see Josephs of the spirit fill the world
You'll see the bodies seeming just like souls
- the souls confirmed by victories all the time
In the Beloved's sacred springtime sing
countless expositions; yet who can hear? [27]
Such Exposition transcends any tongue;
how could these nobodies grasp its meaning? [28]
This Exposition's not just words and sound -
this Exposition's life itself, undying
You'll see the lovers in this endless spring,
a million strong, freely offer up their lives [29]
This is the Spring of Spiritual Might,
the holy vernal tidings of the Lord
If this zephyr's breeze wafts over you
your fleeting soul will drain the immortal cup
If breezes touch you from the Friend's abode,
give life – which comes from Him – in sacrifice
See this Spring's tulips of unicity, [30]
the Friend's locks: hyacinths of sanctity.
Buds of mystic knowledge line this stream bank,
all turn longingly in search of Him [31]
Its cypress trees evoke that Darling's stature,
Its leaves a book depicting our Friend's cheeks,
Its ringdoves drunk on beauty of the Friend,
Its nightingales on cups of "Am I not" [32]
The songbirds in desire of tryst with Him
all drunk on breezes of the grace of "He" [33]
This nightingale's soft melody, if heard, [34]
would purge creation's souls of jealousy
The seas of meaning surge with Exposition
The Ark of Being rides this bounty's crest [35]
Every wind-flower blooming in this spring [36]
tells countless truths and mysteries of that Friend
The Friend's dark locks emit a fragrant musk!
His hand of bounty showers you with gifts
Like salamanders in the fire, His curls; [37]
they coil about the fire of the Friend's face
The holy songbird, separate from the Friend,
burns up both skin and marrow with laments
Should it heave a sigh in separation's throes
it would inflame the souls of the elect
(The elect alone enjoy a share of this –
so from such bounteous grace take warmth, my friend!) [38]
Waft from the soul Your scent of musk divine
that these degenerates may catch sweet hints
This is the spring of endless spirit
- not a spring soon chased away by autumn
In this holy springtide, spirit blossoms
in its atmosphere, the light of Noah shines
It boards the passengers into the Ark [39]
and grants each one of them untold dominion
Beauty of God! Emerge from out the veil,
so that the sun may rise up in the west! [40]
Unseal the musk of God's own privileged knowledge
Open treasure chests of mysteries unseen –
so that the dead discern Your scent of musk
so that Your wine will stir the numb to mirth
Through kind largesse, clothe in Your robe of Might [41]
this Meek one of the earth of unity
This fleeting one – outfit in garb immortal
This abject wretch – give taste of honied riches
That He might step out fully from the curtain
and rend contingent being's veil to shreds,
intoxicated and impelled, emerge,
like a candle in the glass of "they return" [42]
It was in Your garden that this thistle grew,
so make through it a thousand gardens bloom [43]
Upon each garden, then, inscribe a name
and write the ancient secrets on each leaf
that Your face may beam with rays resplendent
and fill the earth and heavens with Your light
Waft over them with mercy's generous breeze;
Tear from this afflicted one all heedless veils [44]
Grant, bright-miened Sovereign, to the spirits pure
the sheltering shade of Your Divine Lote tree
Unlock for them a Gate [45] to Ridván's meaning [46]
For God's sake! do not bar this Gate to them
that I may step unveiled into the world,
expound upon one of Your righteous signs
He said: By God, by God, my righteous man,
don't tell the ignorant the signs of Truth!
God, God! O Tongue of God! Tell this secret
soft and slow, have patience with the people;
perchance Your grace may take them by the hand
and free them from all fear of this and that
Stretch the wings of meaning, fly aloft,
soar through the spheres of nearness unto Him,
near Him in spirit, not by taking steps
Strive with soul and enter realms eternal
To thus traverse the heavens in a flash
is easy if you bow your head in prayer
In Exposition of this let me speak –
that from the Fount of Life you quaff your share
and reach the Riván of eternity
and find your way to where you meet with God
and fathom what is meant by "Cross the earth" [47]
and soar like spirit through His atmosphere -
Since at this moment you're enmeshed in clay,
How can you sense the scent of heart's Ridván?
Strip yourself of all restriction's garments
and sanctify your soul from limitation
Illumine your heart's darkness with His light
Make yourself in spirit's realm the leader
Your darkness once dispelled, His light arises;
His Sinai's rays will sparkle on your heart [48]
Once night comes to an end, the morning dawns
Majestic breezes of the spirit blow
You are, and your corrupted soul, that darkness [49]
God's self-revelation, your Water of Life
Just pass beyond the darkness of your self;
you'll quaff, always refreshed, the wine of life
Then step into the shade of Soul's own Khezr [50]
that from the realms of darkness you'll be freed
The Khezr of old drank deep, was freed from death
while this new Khezr grants countless founts of life
To all He has bestowed the water of life
To the sole King, he's sacrificed his soul!
That Khezr through striving finally arrived;
This Khezr at once made fountains flow with life
That Khezr ran after traces of the fount
This Khezr is chased each step by flowing founts
Return, O spirit's Glory,[118] from this trek,
and so hunt down a million meanings more!
Don't hunt the vagrant beasts, leave them to their graves! [119]
Capture mystic meaning's prize on Sinai's plain
You hunted lovers' souls down on the plains
till all souls passed beyond the plane of Being.
You have no chance to tell the nightingale,
O King of All, of secrets of the Rose [120]
Let a bird fly from the falconer's forearm
and bring back mysteries from the farther realms
And now hunt for the mystic bird of meaning; [121]
Open a treasure with the key of "Be" [122]
The promise that you made, fulfill it now,
you whose light has brightened earth and heaven!
Deck the world with Your spring's vernal verdure;
make Eden envious of Your own Ridván
Of Truth, make blossom fields of wind-flowers
within this atmosphere of soul's springtide
So make each rose a nightingale's sign
To all the kings explain the heart's rosé [123]
For at this moment there are strangers here
(though stranger here and confidant are one) [124]
O morning breeze, from tresses of the Friend
bring fragrances of spiritual musk
O clouds of spiritual bounty, rain
so that the shells may all engender pearls
The mysteries divine: deciphered, shown!
The meaning "cross the earth" is mentioned, told! [125]
Then, you who're drunk on chalices of pride,
exchange your fiery selfish souls for light,
and cross the span of earth with just one breath [126]
to win release from confines of your cage
Till you enter in the shelter of the Friend,
you've no conception of what's pith, what's husk
Your legs of meaning stand quagmired in mud,
ignorant of His fair and radiant face [127]
Once harbored in the King of soul's soft shadow
it's time to uproot heart from worldly earth
For a while at first in dust you wallowed
but in the end you pass beyond the sun
See how, sojourner, you crossed spirit's worlds
in an instant without lifting up a foot!
Now fragrance from sweet meadows of the soul
wafts by, perfuming us and earth in scent
Again that bounteous Riván's soulful musk
wafts by, and blows away all things that were
Of "heed" and "heedlessness" we here lose hold
Both drunk and sober have been carried off
Sobriety erased, effacement fades [128] –
The drunk finds wits, no sober one remains
Whatever names and ways the world once had
have been proved fleeting since my King appeared
For Names, though striving towards Him for an age,
could never comprehend His smallest station
All that your eye and ear have seen and heard,
sure guide,[129] above all that, He's holier.
Then how with ear and eye of insight void
perceive the inner mystery of the Beloved?
Open your eye anew to the new Friend [130]
Clear your inner ear, then listen!
Ignorant eyes see nothing but the dust,
Gnostic eyes see primordial secrets
Gnostic eyes see down the road a million years –
Ignorant eyes can't see the King's own face! [131]
Once someone posed this question to a gnostic:
O you, who've grasped the mysteries of God
O you, by bounty's wine intoxicate,
do you recall the day of "Am I not?" [132]
He said: I do recall that sound, those words, [133]
as if it were but yesterday, no less! [134]
It lingers ever in my ears, His call,
that sweet, soul-vivifying voice of His. [135]
Another gnostic, who had climbed beyond, [136]
had bored the mystic pearls divine, replied:
That day of God has never ended nor
has fallen short, we're living in that day! [137]
His day's unending, not pursued by night –
That we're alive on such a day's not strange
Had Time's Soul ceased its yearning for this day,
then Heaven's court and throne would fall to dust
For through God's power this eternal day
was made unending by His Majesty.
Then you, my dear, please heed this paradox
and mind the counsels of God's mysteries,
that you may find soul's nurture in His wisdom,
your life be for His face a sacrifice
that you may always hear His melodies
and deeply drain the chalice of His grace
that you may comprehend love's mysteries,
quaff Love's rejuvenating streams of wine [138]
I'll never flinch from riff-raffs' brandished swords
though infidels may slay me over and over
From the start my soul drank deep Your vintage
At last I'll give my life to Your remembrance
O Bahá! Kindle once again the fire,
burn up earth's learning and investigation
and clean its soul of worldly qualities;
unlock one symbol of the hidden mysteries,
cast a wave up from the depths of mystic seas
and crack the Ark of superficiality
Pour out a glass that frees me from myself,
that I, like champions,[139] may slash through veils.
You, through whose name the Tree of Life bears fruit,
whose hand wields manifest the powers of Truth,
A world entire in Your palm's destiny
tumultuous now, grows tranquil by Your plan
Light up, bright King, this candle and through it,
illuminate the various directions.
This lantern flame which You've illumined
and protected in protection's glass, [140]
with magnanimity's oil You've succoured it
and tapered it with wicks of God's Command -
Protect it, then, from all oppression's winds
that Your irradiant light may shine through it
Make hands of enemies fall short of it,
Orb of command! Of "We, in truth," the King! [141]
Look at your candle, how it's buffeted
by calamitous contrary winds!
It's through Your beauty's rays it gets its light
let no contingency, then, snuff it out
Since You have kindled it, then quench it not
Since You have made it quick, extinguish not
You whose kindness makes a mote into a sun,
whose wrath reduces lions into sparrows,
Your candle, O Creator, stands exposed
by harsh winds buffeted from every side
If You wish, even water turns to fire
but if You don't, the fire itself turns cold
Through Your wisdom, demons turn to angels
Through Your command, hell's fire turns into light
Should You wish, the winds will work like oil,
will make the spirits blaze and give off light [142]
O Bahá'u'lláh, how fierce Your fire!
it burns the lovers' beings all to stubble
You struck the hearts with one spark from the flame
and set afire whole forests on Sinai
So, from each heart You've conjured burning bushes: [143]
O Moses, here it is! come running fast,
behold the meaning of the fire of God
and free yourselves from grip of the Egyptians!
O Sacrifice of God,[144] do not forsake
love's altar; give your life in paths of love!
Come soul-shorn and headlorn to the Friend's lane,
thus worthy of the folk whose realm this is.
Spirit of God![145] Step in the vale of love[146]
walk the road, blaze a trail, the Cross in tow [147]
Above the skies and physical ascent [148]
climb, King of soul and body's Jubilation!
You're spirit's nightingale on spirit's rose
Won't you please, O Host of spirit, return?
Your home, Spirit-Falcon: the King's forearm –
so aim directly for your home right here!
You, likewise, Noah, break the body's Ark
and hurl yourself into the Sea of Light!
Don't seek self-preservation; Drown this self!
then you'll come up for air in God's embrace [149]
Seek out the King's protection, not the ship's
– the King's preserve will then provide refuge
You, too, hasten Moses, come to Soul's Sinai!
Forget your cloak and sandals, rush unrobed! [150]
that you may know the mysteries of that Fire
which flames from each lock of the Loved One's hair
His locks a fire that burn the soul of love –
both faith and unbelief and love's set ways -
His locks a fire that dance on Mount Párán [151]
The back of Time's bent by His curly strands
O Dove,[152] leave now the tale of Fire's mysteries
Don't bring the pearls of Soul before the blind –
This Staff[153] – the Hand of Truth wields as a sword
and cuts contingent outward forms to shreds
All other staffs[154] are hewn from orchard tree
but this Staff's brought to be through Truth's command
Those staffs in stuff like clay and water grow;
Behold this Staff, composed of hot heart's fire!
This Staff is a consuming fire whose flame
burns through the veils of falsehood, counterfeit
This Staff's the wind that smote the folk of Hud [155]
first sifting faithful out from infidel
This Staff became an ark in Noah's age
and then in Jesus' time to spirit changed
O Moses, you must rush to Soul's Sinai –
Your fire roars with animated flames
Forget the sandals! fly through spirit's realm
like wind, and leave belief and soul behind
(O Bird-soul, fly beyond ephemeral space
to feast eternal with cherubs rosy-cheeked) [156]
The fire of Moses flares in His Lote tree [157]
His breaths respire with hosts of Christ-like spirits
That Moses saw the fire on Sinai glow
This Moses saw his soul ablaze with fire
(Upon the Mount of Soul full many creeds [158]
are manifest like branches lade with fruit)
God's Mount, His breast; the Friend's bright flame, His fire
Snow-white, His hand; and Sinai is His heart
(Not with the whiteness His command created,
but whiteness that itself creates Command!)
Now, in this age, Love's Mount Párán [159] appears
as our Friend rends the veil from off His face
The scent of soul now permeates the air
but I know not from where this fragrance comes
I do know, though, the tresses of the Friend
draw souls forth with their scent to sacrifice
The musk of God has been released, unsealed –
His memory brought our souls to share a secret
Blow, breeze of spiritual morning, soft –
Blow, sacred zephyr of the Merciful
Intoxicate the souls with your aroma
bear them up past being's world to "Am I not" [160]
The Immortal Phoenix from the Mount of Faith [161]
has winged its way into the infinite [162]
and crossed at single stroke the world's horizons
through confirmations from the Spirit-King
Now from the Friend's Throne once again it comes
and infinite the melodies it sings
His rosy face makes dead of winter spring
His lips of ruby make the night daybright
His tresses make the lovers suffer long
His absence brings beloveds abject need
His hair lassoes brave champions by the neck
The head of God's hosts wounded by His shafts
His lips rob every lover's soul of wit
the souls of kings for union with Him yearn
The eye of inner soul – look well, you'll see –
was made to light up by His beauty
Had it not been for His eye, the founts of light
would not have sprung or flowed throughout the world
His rose brings ample gardens into blossom
His cheeks abloom with inner meaning's roses
Where He dwells, Moses' fire seeks its light
In His face, the soul of Christ seeks spirit
From behind the veil should He but step one night,
He'll light a hundred worlds up like the sun
What's night, if not the dark tress of that beauty?
What's morn, if not the light of that Friend's face?
Each and every monarch in Love's city
has scattered for the sake of love his soul
God's beauty in His beauty stands revealed
and from His lips the hearts quaff soulful wine
All the world's entangled in His hair
their wounded chests all heave in pain for Him
When the Zulaykhá of Beauty saw that face
in the place of her hand, she cut her heart [163]
He blew with just one breath of His own spirit
and brought a million Christ-like spirits to life
But this does not describe Him – just His light,
from which you, who're made of attributes, draw life [164]
But find a way His beauty to describe,
and you will cross a thousand seas of meaning
One ray, devout one, being thus described,
imagine the description of Himself!
When the lover's eye espied His beauty,
it cut all heart-ties to this world and beyond
The wave of love's seas surges with His wave
Love's phoenix finds its zenith in His heights
Your eye receives its light from His, and so
to turn to any other's a dark deed
Since the soul's eye takes its light from Him,
what shame were it to light upon another!
Your eye came into sight from Truth's own eye
to see naught but His beauty in the world
(I tell this mystery sotto voce, friend;
I bore this pearl in secret, kind companion!
that the evil eye may never touch Him
that the stranger may not find the way to Him)
Perceive this in your limbs and members, all;
Cast off the fetters of the folk of darkness
For your ear has heard His mystic melodies,
and hearkened to His music's soulful secrets [165]
Now that the handiwork divine's revealed,
turn your eyes to it and from all worldly folk
Look to the world with His eye, if you can [166] –
a thousand realms of meaning you will see
His eye perceives no thing except God's face
His bird takes perch nowhere except His lane
With Him united, lovers' souls burn up;
their hearts, in separation, blaze with flame
So both in separation and reunion
the life-lorn, soul-shorn lover burns, my son! [167]
Then know that love of Truth is your companion
that you may soar away from worldly trappings
Love means a letting go of mortal life
to claim with heart and soul eternity
Seek to hear the secret meaning, if you can, [168]
that you may make divine ascent to God, [169]
that spirit's harvest grow upon your palm tree,
and give forth luminous and sacred fruits
O Breeze, bring us fragrance from His tresses
Clouds, sprinkle on us showers of His grace [170]
that the meadows of His lovers' souls
may bring forth Love's most beauteous tulips
The throne of God is but the lover's heart [171]
which has been purified of all but Him
Once His House, through love of such a heart, was raised [172]
Both House and Him within the House were hid [173]
Know this, O youth! His House resides in hearts
and was not raised upon mere stone and clay [174]
And when His light has bathed and cleansed your heart
your heart becomes His seat – it's His Sinai!
God's House, a Lover now from head to toe,
shines ever effulgent with the Beloved
When Love returns, the veil of reason burns; [175]
of virtue, knowledge, gnosis, harvests burn
Since none but Him is in the House, my son,
from wall to wall know all is His command
Know, then, your eye and ear and hand from Him
and He will see for you and take your hand
The gnostic soul, His highest temple, [176] and
the mystic treasures of His close approach [177]
And now a new way must be found, my son –
this counsel you must heed with all your soul –
So rise beyond reunion/separation [178]
until you reach the precincts of the Source [179]
Separated, you're as sure as in the fire;
reunited with Him, you are febrile, ill
Enter the pure and everlasting realm,
the plane where all but Him do fade away [180]
If you have read the Hadíth "There was God" [181]
then you know secrets of "There's naught but Him" [182]
Walk this path with striving feet to free yourself
from either care: the Friend's absence or union
When you sense for sure the spirit's mystery –
that there is nothing anywhere but God
then wash away in spirit's stream the mire
that you may see the Pure One's emanations
that you may see reunion in reunion
that you may see your heart with Beauty shine
Such union never will be contradicted
such union never ends in separation
If you've an ear for fatherly advice,
both are blasphemy: reunion, absence!
Fly, regal bird, from either consequence [183]
into His, the Sovereign's, sphere of Unity
But I fear your feet will lose their footing,
that evil suppositions cloud your mind
I must explain the meaning for you,
uproot satanic whisperings from your heart
free you from games, evil, hauteur, unrest
lest this exposition[184] tempt you into pride
Know this: His emanations are reunion
which shine within you endless, unconditioned
Within you He has placed His light, in trust; [185]
Strive hard to make it become manifest!
Then in yourself, my sweet, seek union with Him
and you'll no longer feel the Friend's absence
You are yourself the storehouse of God's treasure,
yet heedless, you chase after this and that [186]
Until His attributes appear in you,
know yourself as lost, in separation
His bounty has not left you portionless
of His names and ways and qualities, o sage!
Through His grace, He's opened gates unto you
do not, like ingrates, close those opened gates [187]

Since you have heard the reed pipe's plaint of love, [188]
recognize it now renewed this day through love
You've heard the reed pipe sing, now look Who plays it
(or you'll stay wholly heedless of the King!)
The Piper felt a stranger to the world
and so He donned the reed pipe as His veil [189]
Tear off the veil then from your face, at last
and show alone the Piper to the world
Slice the veils to pieces like a champion [190]
to show God, the Giver's, effulgence revealed
Cry out pipe-like in your separation
until the Piper makes new pact with you
At the clarion call of spirit's Piper
all simmering lovers' breasts begin to boil
With this reed pipe's sighs light conflagrations
to purge the world of egotism's trace
When all the scum burns off the creed of Self
pure reed alone remains within the world [191]
Your eye, lit with His light – O you who know! –
at last can see, perceives alone the Piper
So listen to the mysteries of the Piper,
that you inhale these roses' sweet fragrance!
A single spark of His love's fire caught hold
and scorched the royal harvest of existence
When Beauty drew the curtain from His face
it tore away each sovereign's veils of glory [192]
As if eyelashes were arrows, that Darling
cast His glance, pierced breastbones in the monarch's soul
swift struck the regal crown from off his head [193]
enslaving him, reducing him to fetters [194]
Like prey he fell into the hunter's hands [195]
Like straw, snatched up by wind, thrown down to dust [196]
Will no messenger be heading to Iraq,
to tell of parting's pain, separation's tale? [197]
Wrenched from you, fervent pining souls are scorched
Separation's arrows pierce the hearts of kings
Between you and I, city of spirit,
a million mythic mountains intervene
No messenger have I but fire-hot sighs
Unless the zephyr's breeze can spread the news
My hand cannot attain the date-palm's fruit
My soul's eyes weep deep seas in separation
O Zephyr, fly off now from the Beloved
waft sweetly to the exiles of Baghdad [198]
and ask:
City of the Lord!
How sit still,
now that the Friend's departed from your side?
Your lover languishes away in prison, [199]
suffering like Husayn on plains of Karbalâ: [200]
One Husayn,
untold Yazîds have hemmed him in! [201]
One Friend,
and hostile demons all around, [202]
Like Moses
held among the folk of Egypt,
or God's Spirit
detained among the Jews, [203]
or cast like Joseph
deep into the well –
that endless pit from which there's no way out.
Your nightingale's afflicted in a cage! [204]
Bars keep him in, almost choking out His breath...
Sep 2010
Normanton, Far North West Queensland
Thats a lot of notes.

The Translation notes were great, then I ran out of time. :)

Thank you, looks like a very detailed course.

Regards Tony
Jun 2014
The Language of the Birds
The 13th-century Persian poet Attar wrote a famous Sufi work called The Language of the Birds (also known as The Conference of the Birds). This was an allegory, or symbolic story, about 30 birds (in Persian, simurgh) who go on a quest for a fabulous bird called the Simurgh (representing God). The flock of birds has to traverse seven valleys:
1. Quest (search) 2. Love (of God) 3. Gnosis (insight, knowledge) 4. Detachment (from worldly desires) 5. Unity (with God) 6. Bewilderment (astonishment), and 7. Nothingness (complete identication with God).
After crossing these seven valleys, the 30 birds nally attain the object of their quest. On beholding the Simurgh, the King of Birds turns into a mirror, in which the birds, to their astonishment, see themselves. So the simurgh (30 birds) become one with the Simurgh . The story of this dramatic realization and mystical union became the single most celebrated "word play" in Persian literature. The Language of the Birds is one of the great Sufi classics.
Slight correction here, but there are more than 30 birds who go on the quest. However, only 30 birds survive the journey, the rest either perishing or giving up hope and turning back.

It's technically a small distinction, but I believe it's an important one for the symbolism of the overall piece.

For in the story, the beginning starts with a large flock of birds. The journey through the Seven Valleys causes all the birds apart from the thirty birds to be stripped away. That is, the journey through the seven valleys causes all parts of the flock except for that part which is the simurgh to be stripped away. And the other birds in the flock had to have been stripped away, since if forty or even thirty-one birds had arrived at the palace instead of thirty, they would not have been a simurgh, as they would not have been "thirty birds".

I think this mirrors the mystical journey in that we start with our notion of "self", and through travelling the seven valleys we seek to detach from all aspects of that "self" except for those which are divine in origin.

The thirty birds of our self (or the simurgh of our self) is thus the part of our self that is divine, the part of our self spoken of in "Thou art My lamp and My light is in thee" (Hidden Words) or "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness" (Genesis) or "I say you are gods, as you are all sons of the Most High" (Psalms) or in countless other verses. The rest of the birds then are metaphorically things we think of as defining our self that are actually external attachments. And the process of the birds being reduced to thirty is then the individuation of the true self and the discarding of attachments that hold the divine self back.
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Jul 2017
Kettering, Ohio USA
Slight correction here, but there are more than 30 birds who go on the quest. However, only 30 birds survive the journey, the rest either perishing or giving up hope and turning back.

It's technically a small distinction, but I believe it's an important one for the symbolism of the overall piece.

For in the story, the beginning starts with a large flock of birds. The journey through the Seven Valleys causes all the birds apart from the thirty birds to be stripped away. That is, the journey through the seven valleys causes all parts of the flock except for that part which is the simurgh to be stripped away. And the other birds in the flock had to have been stripped away, since if forty or even thirty-one birds had arrived at the palace instead of thirty, they would not have been a simurgh, as they would not have been "thirty birds".

I think this mirrors the mystical journey in that we start with our notion of "self", and through travelling the seven valleys we seek to detach from all aspects of that "self" except for those which are divine in origin.

The thirty birds of our self (or the simurgh of our self) is thus the part of our self that is divine, the part of our self spoken of in "Thou art My lamp and My light is in thee" (Hidden Words) or "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness" (Genesis) or "I say you are gods, as you are all sons of the Most High" (Psalms) or in countless other verses. The rest of the birds then are metaphorically things we think of as defining our self that are actually external attachments. And the process of the birds being reduced to thirty is then the individuation of the true self and the discarding of attachments that hold the divine self back.
Thanks! You gave me a new insight.
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Sep 2010
Normanton, Far North West Queensland
Jul 2017
Kettering, Ohio USA
Selections from Attar's Seven Valleys The Conference of the Birds
The Valley of the Quest

When you begin the Valley of the Quest
Misfortunes will deprive you of all rest,
Each moment some new trouble terrifies,
And parrots there are panic-stricken flies.
There years must vanish while you strive and grieve;
There is the heart of all you will achieve
– Renounce the world, your power and all you own,
And in your heart’s blood journey on alone.
When once your hands are empty, then your heart
Must purify itself and move apart
From everything that is – when this is done,
The Lord’s light blazes brighter than the sun,
Your heart is bathed in splendour and the quest
Expands a thousandfold within your breast.
Though fire flares up across his path, and though
A hundred monsters peer out from its glow,
The pilgrim driven on by his desire
Will like a moth rush gladly on the fire.
When love inspires his heart he begs for wine,
One drop to be vouchsafed him as a sign
– And when he drinks this drop both worlds are gone;
Dry-lipped he founders in oblivion.
His zeal to know faith’s mysteries will make
Him fight with dragons for salvation’s sake
– Though blasphemy and curses crowd the gate,
Until it opens he will calmly wait,
And then where is this faith? this blasphemy?
Both vanish into strengthless vacancy.

The Valley of Love
Love’s valley is the next, and here desire
Will plunge the pilgrim into seas of fire,
Until his very being is enflamed
And those whom fire rejects turn back ashamed.
The lover is a man who flares and bums,
Whose face is fevered, who in frenzy yearns,
Who knows no prudence, who will gladly send
A hundred worlds toward their blazing end,
Who knows of neither faith nor blasphemy,
Who has no time for doubt or certainty,
To whom both good and evil are the same,
And who is neither, but a living flame.
But you! Lukewarm in all you say or do,
Backsliding, weak –O, no, this is not you
True lovers give up everything they own
To steal one moment with the Friend alone
– They make no vague, procrastinating vow,
But risk their livelihood and risk it now.
Until their hearts are burnt, how can they flee
From their desire’s incessant misery?
They are the falcon when it flies distressed
In circles, searching for its absent nest –
They are the fish cast up upon the land
That seeks the sea and shudders on the sand.
Love here is fire; its thick smoke clouds the head –
When love has come the intellect has fled;
It cannot tutor love, and all its care
Supplies no remedy for love’s despair.
If you could seek the unseen you would find
Love’s home, which is not reason or the mind,
And love’s intoxication tumbles down
The world’s designs for glory and renown –
If you could penetrate their passing show
And see the world’s wild atoms, you would know
That reason’s eyes will never glimpse one spark
Of shining love to mitigate the dark.
Love leads whoever starts along our Way;
The noblest bow to love and must obey –
But you, unwilling both to love and tread
The pilgrim’s path, you might as well be dead!
The lover chafes, impatient to depart,
And longs to sacrifice his life and heart.

The Valley of Insight into Mystery

The next broad valley which the traveller sees
Brings insight into hidden mysteries;
Here every pilgrim takes a different way,
And different spirits different rules obey.
Each soul and body has its level here
And climbs or falls within its proper sphere –
There are so many roads, and each is fit
For that one pilgrim who must follow it.
How could a spider or a tiny ant
Tread the same path as some huge elephant?
Each pilgrim’s progress is commensurate
With his specific qualities and state
(No matter how it strives, what gnat could fly
As swiftly as the winds that scour the sky?).
Our pathways differ – no bird ever knows
The secret route by which another goes.
Our insight comes to us by different signs;
One prays in mosques and one in idols’ shrines –
But when Truth’s sunlight clears the upper air,
Each pilgrim sees that he is welcomed there.
His essence will shine forth; the world that seemed
A furnace will be sweeter than he dreamed.
He will perceive the marrow, not the skin –
The Self will disappear; then, from within
The heart of all he sees, there will ascend
The longed-for face of the immortal Friend.
A hundred thousand secrets will be known
When that unveiled, surpassing face is shown –
A hundred thousand men must faint and fail
Till one shall draw aside the secrets’ veil –
Perfected, of rare courage he must be
To dive through that immense, uncharted sea.
If you discern such hidden truths and feel
Joy flood your life, do not relax your zeal;
Though thirst is quenched, though you are bathed in bliss
Beyond all possible hypothesis,
Though you should reach the throne of God, implore
Him still unceasingly: “Is there yet more?”
Now let the sea of gnosis drown your mind,
Or dust and death are all that you will find.
If you ignore our quest and idly sleep,
You will not glimpse the Friend; rise now and weep.
And if you cannot find His beauty here,
Seek out Truth’s mysteries and persevere!
But shame on you, you fool! Bow down your head;
Accept a donkey’s bridle and be led!

The Valley of Detachment

Next comes the Valley of Detachment; here
All claims, all lust for meaning disappear.
A wintry tempest blows with boisterous haste;
It scours the land and lays the valley waste –
The seven planets seem a fading spark, The seven seas a pool, and heaven’s arc
Is more like dust and death than paradise;
The seven burning hells freeze cold as ice.
More wonderful than this, a tiny ant
Is here far stronger than an elephant;
And, while a raven feeds, a caravan
Of countless souls will perish to a man.
A hundred thousand angels wept when light
Shone out in Adam and dispelled the night;
A hundred thousand drowning creatures died
When Noah’s ark rode out the rising tide;
For Abraham, as many gnats were sent
To humble Ninirod’s vicious government;
As many children perished by the sword
Till Moses’ sight was cleansed before the Lord;
As many walked in wilful heresy
When Jesus saw Truth’s hidden mystery;
As many souls endured their wretched fate
Before Mohammad rose to heaven’s gate.
Here neither old nor new attempts prevail,
And resolution is of no avail.
If you should see the world consumed in flame,
It is a dream compared to this, a game;
If thousands were to die here, they would be
One drop of dew absorbed within the sea;
A hundred thousand fools would be as one
Brief atom’s shadow in the blazing sun;
If all the stars and heavens came to grief,
They’d be the shedding of one withered leaf;
If all the worlds were swept away to hell,
They’d be a crawling ant trapped down a well;
If earth and heaven were to pass away,
One grain of gravel would have gone astray;
If men and fiends were never seen again,
They’d vanish like a tiny splash of rain;
And should they perish, broken by despair,
Think that some beast has lost a single hair;
If part and whole are wrecked and seen no more,
Think that the earth has lost a single straw;
And if the nine revolving heavens stop,
Think that the sea has lost a single drop.

The Valley of Unity

Next comes the Valley of pure Unity,
place of lonely, long austerity,
And all who enter on this waste have found
Their various necks by one tight collar bound –
If you see many here or but a few,
They’re one, however they appear to you.
The many here are merged in one; one form
Involves the multifarious, thick swarm
(This is the oneness of diversity,
Not oneness locked in singularity);
Unit and number here have passed away;
Forget for-ever and Creation’s day –
That day is gone; eternity is gone;
Let them depart into oblivion.
Once someone asked a dervish to portray
The nature of this world in which we stray.
He said: “This various world is like a toy –
A coloured palm-tree given to a boy,
But made of wax – now knead it in your fist,
And there’s the wax of which its shapes consist;
The lovely forms and colours are undone,
And what seemed many things is only one.
All things are one – there isn’t any two;
It isn’t me who speaks; it isn’t you.”

The Valley of Bewilderment

Next comes the Valley of Bewilderment,
A place of pain and gnawing discontent –
Each second you will sigh, and every breath
Will be a sword to make you long for death;
Blinded by grief, you will not recognize
The days and nights that pass before your eyes.
Blood drips from every hair and writes “Alas”
Beside the highway where the pilgrims pass;
In ice you fry, in fire you freeze – the Way
Is lost, with indecisive steps you stray –
The Unity you knew has gone; your soul
Is scattered and knows nothing of the Whole.
If someone asks: “What is your present state;
Is drunkenness or sober sense your fate,
And do you flourish now or fade away?”
The pilgrim will confess: “I cannot say;
I have no certain knowledge any more;
I doubt my doubt, doubt itself is unsure;
I love, but who is it for whom I sigh?
Not Moslem, yet not heathen; who am I?
My heart is empty, yet with love is full;
My own love is to me incredible.”

The Valley of Poverty and Nothingness

Next comes that valley words cannot express,
The Vale of Poverty and Nothingness:
Here you are lame and deaf, the mind has gone;
You enter an obscure oblivion.
When sunlight penetrates the atmosphere
A hundred thousand shadows disappear,
And when the sea arises what can save
The patterns on the surface of each wave?
The two worlds are those patterns, and in vain
Men tell themselves what passes will remain.
Whoever sinks within this sea is blest
And in self-loss obtains eternal rest;
The heart that would be lost in this wide sea
Disperses in profound tranquillity,
And if it should emerge again it knows
The secret ways in which the world arose.
The pilgrim who has grown wise in the Quest,
The sufi who has weathered every test,
Are lost when they approach this painful place,
And other men leave not a single trace;
Because all disappear, you might believe
That all are equal (just as you perceive
That twigs and incense offered to a flame
Both turn to powdered ash and look the same).
But though they seem to share a common state,
Their inward essences are separate,
And evil souls sunk in this mighty sea
Retain unchanged their base identity;
But if a pure soul sinks the waves surround
His fading form, in beauty he is drowned –
He is not, yet he is; what could this mean?
It is a state the mind has never seen.

(Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh vol. 1, pages 96-97):
One of the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh which was revealed after His return from Sulaymaniyyih is The Seven Valleys. This work stands out as a masterpiece of mystical composition. It was written in response to the questions of Shaykh Muhyi'd-Dín, the judge of the town of Khániqayn, who was a Súfí. Although not a Bábí, he was an admirer of Bahá'u'lláh and had written a letter to Him, expressing certain thoughts and posing some questions in mystical terms. The theme of The Seven Valleys is the journey of the soul from its abode in this world to the realms of nearness to God. The seven stages in the journey were already familiar to the Súfís, having been described by Farídu'd-Dín-i-'Attár, an outstanding exponent of Súfism in its early stages. Bahá'u'lláh elucidates the profound meaning and significance of these seven stages. First comes 'The Valley of Search', wherein is described the path which a true seeker must take to attain his object, which is the recognition of the Manifestation of God for the age in which he lives. Before everything else he must 'cleanse the heart - which is the well-spring of divine treasures - from every marking', must turn away from following 'the traces of ... forefathers and sires' and must 'shut the door of friendliness and enmity upon all the people of the earth'. [8-1]
He must sacrifice 'whatever he hath seen, and heard, and understood ...' [8-2] Ardour, zeal and patience are the necessary qualities for him on this plane.
Next is 'The Valley of Love'. Here the wayfarer is like a moth which has found a flame and, longing to reach it, circles around, coming closer and closer until finally it is burnt in a blaze of sacrifice. This is a stage in which the heart of man is touched by the glory of the Manifestation of God Whom he has sought and found. Here, the believer understands neither reasons nor proofs. His heart is attracted, for he has fallen in love with his Beloved. Indeed, the story of every religion is written in the language of love. In the early days of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh, for instance, of the thousands who came in contact with the Manifestation of God and were attracted to Him, some, knowing little of the history, teachings, proofs or laws of His Cause, adored the Báb and Bahá'u'lláh. They were so intoxicated with the wine of Their utterances that, when occasion demanded it, they willingly gave their lives. So intense was their love that some believers who attained Bahá'u'lláh's presence begged Him to accept them as martyrs. Others were so magnetized by His supreme power that they could not bear the thought of separation from Him.

(Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh vol. 1, pages 98-100): The third stage of the journey is 'The Valley of Knowledge'. The word 'knowledge', however, can be misleading as it does not convey the full meaning of the original word 'Ma'rifat' used by Bahá'u'lláh. It is difficult to find a single word in English which can faithfully impart its full significance, a combination of true understanding, recognition and knowledge. The knowledge referred to in this valley is not primarily based on learning. The knowledge of God dawns upon man through his heart. Pride in one's learning and accomplishments often deprives the heart of the light of true understanding. The soul in this valley recognizes the truth and reaches the stage of certitude. 'His inner eyes will open and he will privily converse with his Beloved.' [8-3] He acquires a new vision and begins to understand the mysteries of God's Revelation and creation. He will not be despondent when faced with pain and calamities. Rather, he will approach them with understanding and resignation, for he will 'see the end in the beginning' [8-4] and will discover that suffering and tribulations are eventually realized to be God's mercy and blessing. In everything he finds a wisdom. 'He in this station is content with the decree of God, and seeth war as peace, and findeth in death the secrets of everlasting life... In the ocean he findeth a drop, in a drop he beholdeth the secrets of the sea.' [8-5]
The next stage is 'The Valley of Unity' where the wayfarer is uplifted from the plane of limitation into that of the absolute. Here he no longer sees the world of creation subjectively, restricted by the limitations of his own eyes, but sees it objectively through the eyes of God. He discovers that each created thing manifests, according to its capacity, some of the attributes of God, and that the degree of such manifestation differs in each kingdom of creation. Like a man who soars into outer space and looks down upon the earth with an all encompassing vision, the wayfarer, freed from the cage of self and passion and released from the bondage of limitations, enters upon the plane of universality. His vision has widened to such an extent that no longer is he concerned with his own self or attached to this world. He sees in everything the signs and tokens of God. 'He looketh on all things with the eye of oneness, and seeth the brilliant rays of the divine sun shining ... alike on all created things, and the lights of singleness reflected over all creation.' In this valley there is no place for ego; here the soul 'steppeth into the sanctuary of the Friend, and shareth as an intimate the pavilion of the Loved One... He seeth in himself neither name nor fame nor rank, but findeth his own praise in praising God.' [8-6]
Having attained to this lofty station of detachment from the world, the wayfarer becomes independent of all created things and enters 'The Valley of Contentment'. Although outwardly he may be poor, inwardly he is endowed with wealth and power from the world of spirit. The history of the Faith has recorded many moving episodes in the lives of early believers who held high positions and enjoyed riches and luxury. On embracing the Faith, however, they were stripped of their rank and earthly possessions by the enemies of the Cause. Yet many of them, who had not focused their affection on the things of this world and had ascended to the 'plane of contentment', remained unaffected by poverty and destitution, persecution and suffering. The changes and chances of this world were powerless to weaken their faith or disturb their serenity and peace of mind. Happiness is one of the attributes of the true believer, but this cannot be achieved by a life founded on the delights and pleasures of this world. For such happiness is only transitory and can indeed be sorrow in disguise. Only those who have entered the valley of contentment have experienced true joy, even though their lives be subjected to affliction and suffering. Bahá'u'lláh states that the wayfarer in the valley of contentment burns away the 'veils of want... From sorrow he turneth to bliss, from anguish to joy. His grief and mourning yield to delight and rapture.' [8-7]

(Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh vol. 1, page 101):
Having attained contentment, the traveller comes to 'The Valley of Wonderment' and 'is ... struck dumb with the beauty of the All-Glorious...' [8-9] Like a person who, diving into the ocean, suddenly becomes conscious of its enormous size and fathomless depth, the wayfarer in this valley beholds the vastness of creation and its infinite range. With unclouded vision and clear insight he now discovers the inner mysteries of God's Revelation, and is led from one mystery to a thousand more. 'At every moment he beholdeth a wondrous world, a new creation, and goeth from astonishment to astonishment, and is lost in awe at the works of the Lord of Oneness.' [8-10]
The last valley towards which the wayfarer can strive is 'The Valley of True Poverty and Absolute Nothingness' - 'the furthermost state of mystic knowers, and the farthest homeland of the lovers'. [8-11] 'This station', Bahá'u'lláh affirms, is the dying from self and the living in God, the being poor in self and rich in the Desired One. Poverty as here referred to signifieth being poor in the things of the created world, rich in the things of God's world. For when the true lover and devoted friend reacheth to the presence of the Beloved, the sparkling beauty of the Loved One and the fire of the lover's heart will kindle a blaze and burn away all veils and wrappings. Yea, all he hath, from heart to skin, will be set aflame, so that nothing will remain save the Friend. [8-12]
Jul 2017
Kettering, Ohio USA
As in the Four Valleys, Baha'u'llah uses spatial metaphor to express the stages of the spiritual journey in the Seven Valleys. The first and most important of these metaphors is the concept of "steed" [{markab}]. The description of the valleys opens: "The first is The Valley of Search. The steed of this valley is patience; without patience the wayfarer on this journey will reach nowhere and attain no goal" ({Seven Valleys} 4-5). Similarly, Baha'u'llah names the steed of the second valley, the valley of love: "The steed of this valley is pain; and if there be no pain this journey will never end" (8).

The reader may be puzzled to find that there is no mention of any steed in the valleys that follow. However, this is not due to inconsistency or unintentional omission. Rather it is precisely this presence and absence which provides the clue to the overall structure of the text. The discussion of the spatial metaphor in the Four Valleys has made the answer to this puzzle easy. The first two valleys, those of search and love, imply remoteness from the location of the beloved. As if in a distant land, the wayfarer requires the assistance of a steed to traverse the space between himself and the home of the beloved. The first valley, therefore, implies traveling from a far place until reaching the gates of the city where the beloved resides. In the second valley, the valley of love, the wayfarer tries to find the home of the beloved. The wayfarer's mode of consciousness changes from restless search in the first valley to enthusiasm and longing in the second. Both "steeds," <p91> of patience and pain, seem to symbolize the wayfarer's state of alienation, separation, and yearning.

At the end of the second valley it is as if the wayfarer has arrived at the gate of the beloved's house. We can imagine him getting off his steed and walking toward the gate. In the third valley, the valley of knowledge, the wayfarer's "inner eyes will open and he will privily converse with his Beloved; he will set ajar the gate of truth and piety, and shut the doors of vain imaginings"

The valley of knowledge is "the last plane of limitation [{tahdid}]," the immediate station between the realm of separation and the realm of unity. In the language of the spatial metaphor, this is expressed as the entrance of the wayfarer into the house of the beloved one. The next four valleys represent increasing degrees of intimacy with the beloved. Baha'u'llah affirms this romantic logic of space most explicitly in His description of the fourth valley, the valley of unity: "In this station he pierceth the veils of plurality, fleeth from the worlds of the flesh, and ascendeth into the heaven of singleness...." (1718). At this stage the wayfarer has been taken into the intimate domicile of the beloved. The veils of plurality are cast aside and the lover converses intimately with her. Although Baha'u'llah is using romantic metaphors here. He makes it clear that this intimacy has nothing to do with physical and material attachments. That is why the wayfarer "pierceth the veils of plurality, fleeth from the worlds of the flesh." All the debates about the romantic poetry of the Persian Sufi poets become irrelevant here. Baha'u'llah always makes it clear that He is talking strictly of spiritual love, a love transcending all earthly desires and limitations.

But as Baha'u'llah also makes clear, the fourth valley, the valley of unity, is beginning of the stage of unity and integration. From now on, the spatial metaphor becomes inherently inadequate because the distance it signified has been closed. After the valley of unity, the spatial metaphor recedes to the background. The next three valleys no longer describe distance and separation but the differential forms of <p92> the lover's feelings on being united with the beloved, corresponding to the increasing degree of intimacy. Even words themselves become increasingly inadequate here. "The tongue faileth in describing these three Valleys, and speech falleth short. The pen steppeth not into this region, the ink leaveth only a blot"

The spiritual journey can be seen as the realm of mediation between the two expressions of the Manifestation of God as the origin of human existence (expressed in the arc of descent) and its end (expressed in the arc of ascent). For that reason, the stages of spiritual <p93> journey are the stages of struggle to transcend the fundamental oppositions of visible and invisible, plurality and unity, potentiality and actuality, finite and infinite. In the first Persian Hidden Word, which alludes to 'Attar's poem about the seven valleys, Baha'u'llah speaks of "the realm of the infinite" as the true habitation of the human soul, which must be regained through that spiritual ascent. In the journey through the seven valleys the essential human spiritual identity, which is the highest potentiality of its nature, becomes actualized by transcending diversity and realizing unity in the mirror of the earthly realm of limitation and opposition. The valleys, in other words, are stages of overcoming the personality's enslavement in selfish and limited desires, which had been the basis of the identity, and finding its true nature and identity in a universalistic solidarity with all reality.

The first valley can be conceived as a conscious search for true identity: the wayfarer thirsts for spiritual growth and searches for spiritual truth in the realm of phenomena. The valley of love may be understood as the awakening of natural attraction and fervor in the soul by glimpsing the traces of spiritual truth and oneness within the diversity of phenomena. The valley of knowledge can be seen as the stage of the conscious realization of the interconnectedness of all phenomena and events. Here events that once seemed meaningless, painful, or absurd are disclosed as expressions of teleological order, meaning, and unity. Here the finite is seen as connected with the infinite.

The valley of unity represents the end of the realm of limitation, opposition, and plurality. In that valley, the wayfarer "looketh on all things with the eye of oneness, and seeth the brilliant rays of the divine sun shining from the dawning-point of Essence alike on all created things, and the lights of singleness reflected over all creation" (18). All things in the realm of phenomena are now perceived as reflections of one and the same underlying spiritual reality. All contingent pluralities are now understood as manifestations of the same divine will, love, and intellect. The invisible is witnessed in all its visible shadows and reflections. A sense of universal solidarity and unity with all things emerges. This stage heralds the birth of a new identity of unity which must be ripened, expanded, and perfected in the next three stages. <p94>

This consciousness of unity must now penetrate the entire being of the wayfarer. Not only the reason, but also the feelings, desires, ethical motivations, and the actual living approach to reality must become transformed in the light of the principle of unity. The next three stages have a systematic relation to one another as different moments of that transformation and consolidation of the identity of unity. In the valley of contentment, the spiritual orientation permeates the wayfarer's will, desire, and feelings, creating a sense of delight and joy. In the valley of wonder, the constraining boundaries of a limited rational consciousness become dissolved by amazement, love, and the creative revelations of the unconscious. Baha'u'llah speaks of the mixture of confusion, wonder, ecstasy, bewilderment, and the fusion of ideas and feelings in this stage and uses the example of dreams and the realization of dream revelations in the wakeful state. Here, the identity of unity is accompanied by a profound sense of bewilderment--a constant fusion of ego and non-ego, a fluid tension between knowledge and ignorance, certainty and doubt, conscious and unconscious.

The last stage of this spiritual journey, the valley of annihilation in God and subsistence in God, represents the apex of the new identity of unity. Here the power of divine love burns away all vestiges of opposition and limitation that belonged to the selfish and limited ego and forges a new identity based on committed, loving, and rational devotion to spiritual values, the will of God, and the essential unity of spiritual reality. Since the Manifestation of God is the supreme reflection and mirror of divine unity that is accessible to human beings, the new spiritual identity implies an engaged spiritual orientation for the individual and a commitment to realizing the kingdom of God in the phenomenal realm of human historical existence.