I’ve had a question in response to my blog post: God is not the essence of things. Someone asked, if God transcends all creation, then who does Baha’u’llah communicate with?
That is a difficult question to answer, not least because it asks for information about something human beings will never be able to understand. However, the Bab has commented on this issue, and translations of relevant passages appear in Nader Saiedi’s Gate of the Heart. I’ll quote some passages.
“Inasmuch as the Pre-existence of the Essence can never be associated with, or equal to, anything, and nothing is worthy of mention before His station, it not possible, therefore, that He could be the source of plurality. For, the condition of causation is the mode of association, resemblance and utterance in relation to the effect. This, however, is both impossible and forbidden in the realm of Utter Essence, which in turn is exalted beyond mention by any of His creatures…. The statement of the philosophers that the cause of the created beings is the Essence is erroneous… The truth is that the Cause of beings is God’s Handiwork, created by God Himself for Himself, and ordained to be the Cause of all His creation.”
“Bear thou witness… that verily God, glorified be He, hath ever been, and will ever exist without anything to exist with Him. He verily hath created all things by virtue of His Will, and hath created the Will by itself, out of nothing else…. All things are created and affected by It. Then behold naught in the heavens, the earth, and that which lieth between them, save as the effects thereof. They all, verily, are fashioned by the Will and have proceeded from It, while It is verily created by Itself and abideth beneath Its Own Essence. It hath proceeded from God, Its Lord, and unto God, Its fashioner, It shall return.”
“He hath fashioned the Will from nothingness, through Itself, and ordained It to be the Cause of all that is other than It, with no descent of anything from His Essence unto the Will.”The Bab, cited and translated by Nader Saiedi in Gate of the Heart, pp 191 and 192.
The key idea here is that, as Nader puts it, “the Primal Will… is both its own Cause and the Cause of created reality.” (p191)
How can something be the cause of itself? Shaykh Ahmad has an ingenious argument for how the Primal Will can create itself. He argues that a thing that is inherently creative – that is, the name “the Creator” is an essential attribute of the Primal Will – does not need another thing to create it; rather, it is the cause of itself. In other words, a power that is able to bring things into existence does not itself need another power to bring it into existence. It is able to bring itself into existence. One way to grasp this is to think of the sun. The sun is self-luminous and does not need another thing to make it shine. The Primal Will is self-subsisting and self-creating. Baha’u’llah is Manifestation of the Primal Will.
Who does Baha’u’llah communicate with? I think the answer is that he communicates with God through himself. He explains in the Kitab-i-Iqan that the Manifestations have two stations: a divine station and a human station. The human station speaks with the divine station, which is the Primal Will.