For most of this year, I have been slowing writing a commentary on Baha’u’llah’s Tablet of the Son. The commentary is not a long complicated affair – it’s just short notes of interest on each paragraph. The tablet is reasonably lengthy, running to 33 paragraphs. I chose to do this commentary because I think Tablet of the Son is a very important tablet and should be better known. It contains many important ideas that I am not aware are found in other tablets. And so I thought it was worth going through the tablet slowly so that these ideas could be brought to light.
The word “son” in the title refers to Jesus, who called himself the Son of Man and the Son of God. The tablet carries this reference to Jesus because, half-way through it, Baha’u’llah includes a long quote from a letter he wrote to a Christian priest. In this middle section of the tablet, Baha’u’llah discusses some central Christian themes, such as the role of John the Baptist and the meaning of Jesus’ power to heal and forgive sins. For this reason, Tablet of the Son should be thought of as a companion to the Most Holy Tablet (commonly known as Tablet to the Christians), which appears in the Tablets of Baha’u’llah.
“We bear witness that when he came into the world he bestowed his radiance on contingent beings. By him the leper was cleansed from the diseases of ignorance and blindness and the afflicted was cured of the maladies of negligence and passion. The eyes of the blind were opened, and all souls were purified by the Almighty, the All-Powerful. In one station, leprosy refers to whatever causes a servant to be veiled from mystical insight into his Lord, such that whoever is thus veiled is termed a leper, nor is he worthy of mention in the kingdom of God, the Glorious, the All-Praised. We testify that by the word of God lepers were cleansed, the infirm were cured, and the sick were healed. In truth, it is the purifier of the world. Blessed are those who advance toward it with illumined faces..”Baha’u’llah: Tablet of the Son, paragraph 18
Tablet of the Son begins with a lament about the way that the Babis rejected Baha’u’llah, and then moves on to an illuminating discussion on several keys topics: the fact that the Word of God is revealed anew in each dispensation, the nature of mystical knowledge and what it truly is, the basic principle of the Baha’i revelation and the difference between it and the Babi and Islamic dispensations.
In the final section of the tablet, Baha’u’llah discusses another important theme that he introduces early on, and that is the idea that when Manifestations appear, they do not just bring new laws and teachings, they transform the nature of things and invest in them a new capacity. This point is the reason Baha’u’llah talks about Jesus, because this is what Jesus also did by ‘healing’ people.
“Likewise, do not think that the manifestation of the Eternal Truth is limited to causing outward knowledge to appear or altering some well-established laws among the people. Rather, at the time of revelation all things become bearers of divine emanations and infinite capabilities, and in accordance with the exigencies of the time and earthly circumstances, these become manifest.Baha’u’llah: Tablet of the Son, paragraph 13
On this theme of investing people with fresh capacities, Baha’u’llah ends the tablet with some wonderfully inspiring remarks.
“My friends, you are the wellsprings of my own discourse. In every spring, a droplet from the heavenly stream of divine meaning wells up. With the hand of certainty, cleanse these springs of the pollution of unfounded judgments and illusions. In this way, might you yourselves give convincing and unassailable answers to the sorts of questions that have been posed. In this greatest of dispensations, all must appear with branches of knowledge and sayings of wisdom. For in these days wherein doubt has been banished, celestial gales have rendered all human beings – indeed, all things – bearers of the divine emanations to the extent of their capacity. In the impenetrable depths of the revealed words have been disclosed the answers to the issues that were raised, as well as those that remain hidden and concealed. God willing, you will gaze with divine vision into his words, so that you will discover that which you seek.”Baha’u’llah: Tablet of the Son, paragraph 28
My commentary on Tablet of the Son can be found here.