This is the latest installment in my ongoing slow-read of Baha’u’llah’s Tablet of the Son, paragraph 12. To read the full commentary so far, click here.
In paragraph 10 of Tablet of the Son, I discussed the fact that Baha’u’llah is not impressed by fancy mystical talk. Baha’u’llah argued that the words of a new revelation are an innovation, even though they appear to be the same words. Therefore, fancy talk based on the meanings of previous revelations was not a measure of one’s spiritual worth. What mattered, he argued, was being able to recognise that a new revelation has come and that it has instilled into the words of God a kaleidoscope of new meaning.
In paragraph 12, Baha’u’llah is back with this theme. He pulls no punches. He comes out straight and says that what’s required is for a person to “look at the basic principle of the cause of God”, and not be taken in by people’s fancy mystical talk, which he characterises as “the high or low levels of verbal insight”.
“One must look at the basic principle of the cause of God, not at the high or low levels of verbal insight that have been achieved among the people.”
Great, that instruction is clear. But what is the basic principle of the cause of God in Baha’u’llah’s revelation? The answer is easy to miss because it comes unexpectedly in paragraph 8. At that point in the tablet, the reader isn’t sure of its significance or what it really means. But now we can see Baha’u’llah saying that people get caught up in the fancy talk of earlier dispensations, and evaluate his revelation by the standard of that talk, instead of focusing on the basic principle of God’s core purpose. This time, that principle is virtues, and everyone blinked and missed it because they were enamoured with their talking.
“Note that what appeared was virtues, of which all remained ignorant.”
After saying this, Baha’u’llah does not go on to explain what he means by “virtues”. Later on, I will deal with that question. Back to paragraph 12: Baha’u’llah expresses frustration at not being able to get through to people because they are so veiled by their talk.
“I wish I were able to make manifest what is hidden. My inability to do so derives from the way souls are veiled. Otherwise, He is the Self-Sufficient, the All-Praised.”
And now Baha’u’llah goes back to the earlier theme about how God innovates new meanings into the Word of God with each dispensation. He gives another example of this innovation. This time, he compares the outpouring of grace characteristic of this Day of God with that of the days of Moses. Moses seized his chance and asked Yahweh if he might be allowed to see Him. Yahweh said no, that Moses would never see Him. But, explains Baha’u’llah, in this Day of God, everyone can see Him, because Baha’u’llah is Yahweh and he has appeared to everyone.
“At one time, he says, ‘You shall never see me.’[Qur’an 7:139] At another he says, ‘Behold and you shall see me.’”
Paragraph 12 finishes up with Baha’u’llah equating mystical insight with recognition of him as the new Manifestation of God. These are the people who have ‘beheld’ and seen God, and affirmed who they were looking at.
“Yes, today every soul who affirms belief in what was revealed from the heaven of the divine will has ascended to and attained the summit of mystical insight. All others are deprived and non-existent. We ask God to aid us, and take care not to swerve from steadfastness in the cause, at which the realm of names was turned upside down and the inhabitants of the cities of creation were inebriated, save for those who were overtaken by guidance from God, the Guardian, the Eternal.”