Interpretations of Gems of Divine Mysteries, and a Weight Lifted From Me

Nov 2015
Greetings, all! I hope you find yourselves doing well.

Today, I was given a physical copy of "Gems of Divine Mysteries" by a fellow Baha'i. I've read bits and pieces of the text previously, but I have never delved into the full text - something I intend on doing now that I have a physical copy. In doing so I plan to write commentaries on the particular areas that really make me think. I wrote out my interpretation of a particular line that caught my eye today, using Kabbalistic methods of interpretation (Though as of late I have had a serious lack of sleep, so pardon me if I have missed any details) - I figured I would share it with you. Here goes:

"Not until thou hast grasped the mysteries concealed in that which We shall relate unto thee canst thou hope to attain the stations of faith and certitude in the Cause of God and in those who are the Manifestations of His Cause, the Daysprings of His Command, the Treasuries of His revelation, and the Repositories of His knowledge."

The surface meaning of this is that the person who has posed the question will only reach the understanding of God's plan, the mission of the Manifestations of God, and the meaning of the revelations of the aforementioned Manifestations, through the "Gems" that Baha'u'llah will reveal over the course of this epistle. However, there is a much deeper meaning to this.

"Not until thou hast grasped the mysteries concealed in that which We shall relate unto thee..."

Baha'u'llah notes immediately that there is a deeper meaning to the answer that he is going to provide. This means that while the surface meaning of what he has to say is true, one must analyze and look deeper into the meaning of what Baha'u'llah is about to say, for the real
answer this person seeks is concealed in mystery. From the point of view of a mekubal (A
practitioner of Kabbalah) this seems to mean that one must look past the surface meaning (Called the "Peshat") and dive deeper - Even deeper than the "Remez", the symbolic meaning, and even deeper than the "Derash", or the deeper understanding, all the way to the "Sod", or mystery, the deepest understanding, in order to truly achieve certitude and faith in God, His messengers, and their revelations. He says that they are "concealed" mysteries, because the Sod is concealed by the Derash, the Remez, and the Peshat. In speaking of the concealed mysteries, it seems that Baha’u’llah hinted that he intends this text to be meticulously studied and interpreted, as many mystical texts should be.

“...The Cause of God and in those who are the Manifestations of His cause, the Daysprings of His Command, the Treasuries of His revelation, and the Repositories of His knowledge.”

This may be a metaphor for Scripture. The dawn of His command is found in scripture throughout history. The scripture is the "Dawn", or dayspring, because it is where his command is found, which inspires people. The people who carry out His commands are the daytime, while the scripture it is found in is the dayspring or dawn. This is further supported by the next part of the sentence, since scripture is the recorded revelations of the various Manifestations of God. It then makes sense to call scripture the "Treasuries of His revelation", since they are literally the records of God's message. Furthermore, scripture (such as the text itself) is certainly a repository of His knowledge. If a person has a very deep understanding of the text, it may trigger an understanding of other scriptures that come from God.

While I was showering after writing that, I came to a shocking realization.

Before becoming Baha'i, I was Sikh (And in a way, I still consider myself Sikh, since in that faith it does not matter what religion you come from, it's about coming together over God, something very much in Baha'i's spirit of unity) - And in learning of Sikhism, I became a very intense believer in reincarnation, something I had always believed in even as a youth. In fact, it is my initial belief in reincarnation that made me realize I was not satisfied with the faith I was born into. And as a Baha'i, I have struggled very hard to understand the words of Abdu'l-Baha and the Guardian on the subject of reincarnation. However, in the shower, I had an epiphany. :)p All good ideas come in the shower!)

In trying to reconcile my beliefs with that of the Baha'i faith, I had come to the conclusion that the writing of Abdu'l-Baha on reincarnation and similar things like transmigration, was not something that was so set-in-stone, seeing as he openly invites believers in reincarnation to step forward with proofs, and then proceeds to say that the person whom posed this question to him explicitly asked him for proofs against it, and so that is what he gave. I don't see this as condemning reincarnation, no, instead I find it to be quite the opposite, an invitation for people to converse about the topic.

On the flip side, the Guardian seemed to have a much more stern view on the topic. Though, I connected a quote on behalf of the Guardian with the sentence I had interpreted above:
"We must use the Writings of the Prophets as our measurement. If Bahá'u'lláh had attached the slightest importance to occult experiences, to the seeing of auras, to the hearing of mystic voices; if He had believed that reincarnation was a fact, He, Himself, would have mentioned all of these things in His Teachings. The fact that He passed over them in silence shows that to Him, they had either no importance or no reality, and were consequently not worthy to take up His time as the Divine Educator of the human race."

I had always taken the stance that, somehow, some way, that I had not seen yet, that reincarnation was something unimportant, though having reality to it. I have stayed at this plateau for months until this glorious shower.

Apologies in advance to anyone who may disagree with the following summary, bear in mind that this is merely my interpretation of reincarnation in the Sri Guru Granth Sahib. To summarize, the purpose of reincarnation is to harmonize with God, through understanding of His message. One's soul, in vastly different times of the Earth, where the culture, people, technology, and even geography to an extent, were all different, has connected with another body in order to continue to learn until the soul harmonizes with God. When the soul finally reaches an understanding of God's message, the cycle of reincarnation ends.

The reason why reincarnation is unimportant is said by Baha'u'llah in the above quote from Gems of Divine Mysteries plainly. Understanding what the Gems of Divine Mysteries have to say will cause one to reach certainty in God's message - Understanding the Gems of Divine Mysteries will harmonize you with God.

And how obvious it became to me! Of course reincarnation is now unimportant, and there is no need for Baha'u'llah to attach importance to it's doctrine - The very book I hold is the key to harmonizing with God! If one understands this text written by Baha'u'llah, they will reach an understanding of God's message, therefore ending the cycle of reincarnation and progressing one's soul to their journey toward or away from God!

It's not important because Baha'u'llah literally gave us the guidebook to harmonizing with God. I have been trying to reconcile reincarnation and the faith for 2 years now. I have truly never been happier.
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Sep 2010
Normanton, Far North West Queensland
It is great that you have found this bridge over a personal challenge.

Reincarnation is also a big part of Hinduism and it will cause many challenges in the future.

I am on Forums where it comes up in relation to the Baha'i Teachings.

I hope your vision can be shared and undestood with and by those that do follow the path of reincarnation.

Regards Tony
Aug 2014
Blue Planet
thanks a lot for your beautiful and thoughtful post. it made me think more. I have only recently finished reading Gems. now I like to study it again :D
Mar 2015
Bend area, Oregon
I will offer a brief thought:

Before my recognition of Baha’u’llah almost 40 years ago, I was one who perceived that the reincarnation belief made sense in that all things appear to follow the repetitive patterns of circles and cycles. As a Baha’i, I perceive the same, except that with each cycle one's soul does (can) attain a to a higher level, i.e. one passes from this life into a higher level or cycle of spiritual experience in the Great Beyond. In that Beyond, without having the bodily (animal) form experiences, and the spiritual experiences of this life cycle, the soul surely cannot be static either, but must experience further spiritual growth cycle unfoldments (cycle after cycle after cycle . . . . ) into what we imagine as eternity.

Again, only a thought.

Nov 2015
I like that description very much, Larry! One's soul never stops learning or growing. The moment it does, it is merely a pause, a struggle, a challenge in learning more, that they will eventually overcome. It is an interesting thought that reincarnation may not be a physical rebirth but a spiritual one. You have made me think :p
Nov 2015
Greetings all, I have interpreted the first quote from the Gospel of Matthew used by Baha'u'llah, but I've had quite the hard time with it - Does anyone else have any interpretations of this they would like to bring forward? I had trouble understanding how it relates as a sign of the One Who Shall Come After Him.

"And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days!"
The simple meaning is that sorrow is had for those who have children they must carry through the hardships that occur before the return of Christ, for raising a child, particularly a suckling infant, is already quite challenging, add on top of this the hardships of the bleak time that precedes the second coming.

This has a dual meaning aside from the literal. In a symbolic interpretation of the surrounding verses also, we see there is distress to those authorities and the ones they govern over. "Them that are with child" easily points to parents. Further, it could reference authorities like kings and rulers, and their citizens being the children. Thus, those rulers with citizens that they must care for, distress to them.

Having a knowledge of the surrounding verses in relation to this is greatly beneficial, specifically Matthew 24:15-20. The abomination and desolation mentioned by Daniel is the primary subject of the verses mentioned above. I personally view this symbolic nature to refer to a time where such things are spiritual. Irreligious values and sin will cover the earth, prior to the eventual return of Christ.

The verse thereafter talks about those in Judea fleeing to the mountains once this happens. My theory is that Judea represents the true followers of God in this day and age, and that the mountain represents something immovable or permanent. It could be interpreted then, telling the followers of God to flee together to the permanent, meant to establish something to the effect of an endless unity. This could very well be a foretelling of the Baha'i faith itself, since these are the conditions prior to the return of Christ, a role in which is fulfilled by Baha'u'llah. The followers of God are to unite and await his coming. A possible reference to the Babi community?

Now we finally come to the meaning of the verse at hand. Baha'u'llah has picked this verse specifically as a sign heralding a manifestation after Christ, and in the text itself, a sign heralding the second coming. In making sense of the previous verses, we find that this may describing the distress a parent with a young child will have, in an age where irreligious values and sin reign are plentiful, trying to raise a child in this situation. If we take into account the possible symbolic representation, it could refer to the distress a ruler will have with the citizens he cares for. Sinful leadership often inspires sinful citizens. The rulers will be the ones who spread irreligious values, something that was similar to the state of the world's leadership during his lifetime. The corruption of a society through its leadership. Woeful indeed.

My final thought on the verse is that the parent figure could represent God, and the child His people. God in this time experiences sorrow for His faithful, especially ones who try to learn His message under such hard conditions (these are the children that he ‘gives suck’). Keeping in mind that this verse is called a sign to herald the one who will come after Christ, we are essentially told that his return would not be until the world had become very bleak, and hard for God's faithful to get by. To me, this sounds like a sign preceding Baha'u'llah, referencing the Babi community, and the very hard times they were facing before the spiritual return of Christ through the person of Baha'u'llah.
Oct 2017
Zanesville, Ohio

As regards re-incarnation, to my understanding, the definition within Webster is more concerning transitions in ones spiritual progress. Returning unto God is forward progress, while a return to a human body is inclined to digress (backwards).

In the allusion, as taught by a butterfly, it does not return to being a caterpillar. Likewise, after passing through the Valley of No Name or Description, our identifiable soul, in its longing for God, progresses into the Kingdom of Abha to grow towards its acceptance into the Kingdom of Baha.

We are taught in Islam the Seven Valleys (cities). In Gems of Divine Mysteries, He speaks of the Valley of Resignation (8th Valley) and the Valley of Immortality (9the Valley). Were we to pray and meditate upon the journey of the soul, such would be the realization of being accepted into the Valley of Ridvan (Paradise) and our becoming a Phoenix at the foot of the Fountain of Salsibil. (see camphor drink in the Valley of Resignation and the ginger drink in the Valley of Paradise).

May your mystic path continue to enlighten and bring joy to your heart.

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Guidance on authoritative interpretations: