I have argued that the physical world has two roles: one, to be the object of science; and two, to be the symbolic representation of the spiritual worlds. Baha’i scripture is chock full of gorgeous symbolic language. Why? In order to transport the reader to the spiritual worlds.
The Baha’i World Centre has released a new book of tablets by Abdu’l-Baha called Light of the World. I have begun reading through it. After a quick look-through, it appears to be a sort of volume 2 of Selections of the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha. It contains 76 selections of varying length, some a couple of paragraphs right through to some a few pages long. Today, I began reading no 6 and kaboom! there was a glorious example of symbolic language. The tablet was written to celebrate Ridvan, and Abdu’l-Baha begins it with an opening paragraph about how the blessings of God have transformed the earth into an eternal paradise. It’ll take your breath away.
All credit to the translators, who I think did a marvellous job of this: “The morning breeze bloweth over hill and dale in this wondrous Springtime, as a token of Thine inestimable favour, transforming these lands into a fine brocade of incomparable hues and a silken carpet begemmed with flowers and adorned with a vesture of verdant leaves that dazzle the eyes with their gleaming splendour. ” Fantastic. You can just see the land covered in flowers and shining leaves, which turn it into a thick, rich, colourful carpet.
Here is the first paragraph of selection no 6:
“O Lord, my God, my Best-Beloved, my Aim, my heart’s Desire! This, verily, is the first of the days of Riḍván. It is come with joy and delight, exultation and rapture. The winds are wafting, the clouds are raining down, and the sun is shining forth through Thy bountiful grace. The morning breeze bloweth over hill and dale in this wondrous Springtime, as a token of Thine inestimable favour, transforming these lands into a fine brocade of incomparable hues and a silken carpet begemmed with flowers and adorned with a vesture of verdant leaves that dazzle the eyes with their gleaming splendour. The breezes blow gently, the fresh streams flow softly, and the meads are adorned with bloom; the groves are lush, the clouds are rich with rain, and the stars are aglow through Thy gracious providence. This dust-heap of a mortal world hath been made green and lustrous by Thy bounty, and the earth hath become an eternal paradise through Thy mercy, O my God, inasmuch as Thy day of Riḍván hath arrived, girded with majesty and invested with sovereignty, flooding creation with beams of light like unto a star, and accompanied by a procession of fervour and joy. Riḍván hath pitched its tent with dazzling splendour in the midmost heart of the world, and led its hosts and sent forth its troops far and wide to the uttermost corners of Paradise.” Light of the World, no 6, www.bahai.org/r/671008392