The local Opera House had been rented for Abu’l-Fadl’s talks and it was packed. Probably more than a thousand people had come. And, before this crowd Abu’l-Fadl rose to speak. For a moment, he stood there, his eyes roving over all the lifted, waiting faces, and suddenly he thought ‘This trip is proving very successful! I am doing very well, this is a cause for great pride and satisfaction and when I return to Acca the Master will be well pleased with me. Truly I am doing well.’ And, with this thought, the mind of Abu’l-Fadl went completely blank. He did not know who he was or why he was standing on this platform with all these people looking at him or what he was supposed to say. Then, instantly he realized what had happened. He had taken it upon himself to feel that it was HE who had accomplished this success; it was HIS words that would reach the hearts; it was HE - HE - HE - who had been proud. And, as he realized this he turned, in abject shame, to Bahá’u’lláh, imploring His forgiveness and begging Him to fill his heart once more with His Light to move his lips again with His Word. And immediately Abu’l-Fadl’s prayer was answered, and the talk went forward. Later, Abu’l-Fadl asked Dr. Khan how long it had been that he stood there tongue-tied and blank - for it had seemed to Abu’l-Fadl that he must have disgraced himself before that great audience. But Khan assured him that it had been no time at all that there had been no break in the discourse. But it is to be noted that - many years afterward - ‘Abdu’l-Bahá particularly praised Abu’l-Fadl for being one of the very rare souls who never used the pronouns ‘I’ or ‘me’ or ‘mine‘.
(Reginald Grant Barrow, Mother’s Stories: Stories of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and Early Believers told by Muriel Ives Barrow Newhall to her son, p. 7)
Words from Mr. Nakhjavani:
I was asked to say a few words to the dear South African believers who are here today. I thought I could tell you about a tablet, a very short tablet, revealed by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. The contents of this Tablet are as follows: the Master says the relationships of the believers to the Cause of God are of two kinds. One kind is like the relationship of the flower to the garden. The other relationship is that of the ray of the sun to the sun. “I hope", Master says, “that your relationship will be of the second kind”. And that is the end of the Tablet!
Now, I have been thinking about this Tablet, and I have been wondering why ‘Abdu’l-Bahá says that he prefers the second kind to the first kind. There is nothing wrong in being a flower in the garden of Bahá’u’lláh. In fact, we have prayers, “O God, make me a flower in Thy garden”. Why is it that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá prefers the other type, which is the ray of the sun? The sun is the Cause of God, and the ray emanates from it. So I am offering my views, my humble views, about this beautiful, simple tablet of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. I thought like this, I said, OK, we have a flower in a garden, the flower says, “I like this garden", in other words, we say, we like the Cause. “I like this garden, I grow in this garden, I am proud of my garden, I am named after this garden”.
(I am a Bahá’í) OK, this is all good. We take the ray of the sun. The ray says exactly all these things, he says, “I am from the sun, I am proud of the sun, I depend everything, all my life on the sun,"
etc, etc, exactly the same thing. But, if you bring one ray and you bring a second ray, what happens? The two rays become one. But if you bring one flower and you bring another flower, they remain two flowers.
If on an Assembly or a Bahá’í committee, you bring nine rays and bring them together, they become one strong united ray. But if you bring nine flowers and bring them together, they are a beautiful bouquet, a beautiful flower arrangement, but they are nine different flowers, and everyone, if we credit the flower with some thinking, some intelligence and some ego, the flower will say, “Really, I don’t want to say, but I think I‘m better than the others. I think I‘m more beautiful, I think I have a more beautiful scent. I don’t want to talk about it, but... never mind...” This is what the flower will do. Why, because of the ego. The ego is inside. And believe me, this animal ego is in all of us. If we have 20 people in this room, there are 20 egos, no exception. And this ego will be with us till the very last breath. When we go to the next world, we separate, we say goodbye. But until that day, it is with us, it suggests things to us, it deviates us from
the right path, because that is the animal in us, it wants everything for itself.
OK, let’s go to the ray now. The ray says, “I have no name, it doesn’t matter. I don’t have colour, it doesn’t matter. I am from the sun. My job is to be faithful and to carry the light of the sun, the heat of the sun. That is my duty. And I am doing it.” It is so pure that if you take a chair, and you go outside where there is the sun, you say, “I am sitting in the sun.” Ha! You are not sitting in the sun. The sun is up there! But the ray is so faithful, so pure, that it carries all the qualities of the sun, in a pure way, so much so that you say I am sitting in the sun.
Now, another difference is that the flower is on the receiving end.” Soil, give me good soil, water, give me good water, light and sun, I want more light.” It’s all the time receiving. “Give me.” What does the ray do? It doesn’t want anything, the ray gives, it helps the flowers to grow. Big difference between the two!
So, that is why I think ‘Abdu’l-Bahá says, “It’s good to be a flower in the garden, but better still is to be a ray of the sun. This is my first choice for you, this is what I prefer you to be. To be a ray from the sun, so that you give to others, you are a way of helping others. You are not thinking of yourself. You are thinking of others, to assist others all the time, to give the light, to give the heat, the warmth."
So that is the end of the tablet, and that is the end of my little talk.
(Ali Nakhjavani; story sent by email forwards)
Lua and Georgia Ralston were out driving with ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and the Master appeared to have gone to sleep. Lua and Georgia talked about their own concerns until He suddenly opened His eyes, laughed and said, “I, me, my, mine: words of the devil!”
(Earl Redman, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in Their Midst, p. 222)
We‘re told that the station of a Bahá’í in this day is the same as the station of the prophets of old:
In confirmation of the exalted rank of the true believer, referred to by Bahá’u’lláh, He reveals the following: “The station which he who hath truly recognized this Revelation will attain is the same as the one ordained for such prophets of the house of Israel as are not regarded as Manifestations ‘endowed with constancy.’” (Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 110)
A Bahá’í mentioned that on pilgrimage he mentioned this quote to Shoghi Effendi, who gave her such a look ... mixed with compassion, that she understood she will never dare think that. How we have to be on guard against our ego!
Juliet Thompson was also there when ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was introduced Admiral Peary, who had just succeeded in publicly disgracing Captain Cook and proving himself, and not Captain Cook, the discoverer of the North Pole. Juliet said that: … At that moment … he looked like a blown-up balloon. I was standing beside the Master when Khan brought the Admiral over and introduced him. The Master spoke charmingly to him and congratulated him on his discovery. Then, with the utmost sweetness, added these surprising words: “For a very long time the world had been much concerned about the North Pole, where it was and what was to be found there. Now he, Admiral Peary, had discovered it and nothing was to be found there: and so, in forever relieving the public mind, he had rendered a great service.” I shall never forget Peary’s nonplussed face. The balloon collapsed! ‘Abdu’l-Bahá also suggested that the Admiral should explore the invisibilities of the Kingdom.
(Earl Redman, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in Their Midst, p. 97-98 )
One summer day a luncheon was held in Dublin, New Hampshire, in the home of Mrs Parsons who had ‘asked some twenty people, all outstanding in various walks of life, to meet ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. Culture, science, art, wealth, politics, achievement – all were represented.’ ‘Most of those present at this luncheon party knew a little of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s life history, and, presumably, were expecting a dissertation from Him on the Bahá’í Cause. The hostess had suggested to the Master that He speak to them on the subject of Immortality. However, as the meal progressed, and no more than the usual commonplaces of common society were mentioned, the hostess made an opening, as she thought, for ‘Abdu’l-Bahá to speak on spiritual things. ‘His response to this was to ask if He might tell them a story, and He related one of the Oriental tales, of which He had a great store and at its conclusion all laughed heartily.
‘The ice was broken. Others added stories of which the Master’s anecdote had reminded them. Then ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, His face beaming with happiness, told another story, and another. His laughter rang through the room. He said that… It is good to laugh. Laughter is a spiritual relaxation. When they were in prison, He said, and under the utmost deprivation and difficulties, each of them at the close of the day would relate the most ludicrous event which had happened. Sometimes it was a little difficult to find one but always they would laugh until the tears would run down their cheeks. Happiness, He said, is never dependent upon material surroundings, otherwise how sad those years would have been. As it was they were always in the utmost state of joy and happiness.’ That was the nearest He came to talking about the Bahá’í message but the effect on those present was undoubtedly greater than any ‘learned dissertation would have caused in them‘. ‘After the guests had gone, and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was leaving for His hotel, He came close to His hostess and asked her, with a little wistful smile, almost, she was used to say, like a child seeking approbation, if she were pleased with Him.’ (Honnold, Annamarie, Vignettes from the Life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 170)