As the Master travelled in the West, He compared the East and the West and was delighted with the contrasts.
In the Hotel Rittenhouse in Philadelphia about fifty people were crowded into a small room for a meeting with the Master. For lack of chairs some people sat on the floor – this delighted ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. He commented, ‘This is a cause of unity; see! The Occident is sitting on the floor like the Orient and the Orient is sitting on the chairs.’ He laughed with delight and then gave His talk.
(Honnold, Annamarie, Vignettes from the Life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 175)
[Juliet Thompson said:] May we all be in just such a gathering with you in New York!
[‘Abdu’l-Bahá said:] I have made a pact with the American friends. If they keep the pact I will come.
[Juliet Thompson said:] The believers are much better friends than they were.
[‘Abdu’l-Bahá said:] I shall have to know that! Bahá’u’lláh, the Master continued, was bound with chains no longer than the distance from here to that post. With the sudden terrific agitation he rose and pointed to a column close to the table. He could scarcely move. Then he was exiled to Baghdad, to Adrianople, to Constantinople, to Akká – four times! He bore all these hardships that unity might be established among you. But if, among themselves, the believers cannot unite, how can they hope to unite the world? …
[‘Abdu’l-Bahá said:] if I come to America, Juliet, will you invite me to see such waterfalls!
[Juliet Thompson said:] I will invite you to Niagara if you will come to America! But surely, my Lord, your coming doesn’t depend on my invitation.
[‘Abdu’l-Bahá said:] My invitation to America will be the unity of the believers.
[Juliet Thompson said:] Louise Stapfer asked me to give you her love and beg you to come and unite us. Otherwise, she said, we will never be United.
[‘Abdu’l-Bahá said:] No, you must do that yourselves. See in what perfect harmony we are now! You are not complaining of one another. But if I should go to America, they would all be complaining of one another and … I would fly away!
(Earl Redman, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in Their Midst, p. 20, 22)
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.”
(Ali Nakhjavani, Pilgrim’s Notes)
One day, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá a group of friends were under a grove of trees near Lake Michigan and He said: “Some of you may have observed that I have not called attention to any of your individual shortcomings. I would suggest to you, that if you shall be similarly considerate in your treatment of each other, it will be greatly conducive to the harmony of your association with each other.
(Earl Redman, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in Their Midst, p. 117)
The Master spoke to him in Persian with an interpreter. After saying that ‘The Cause of God is like a tree—its fruit is love‘, He asked how the believers were. Happy that they were becoming more united He replied, ‘This news is the cause of My happiness, for the more they are united the more they will receive God’s confirmation. They must love one another. Each must devote and sacrifice himself and what he has for the other. I, Myself, sacrifice My life for all.’
(Honnold, Annamarie, Vignettes from the Life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 82)
The party boarded the train at 11 o‘clock that night. His aides tried to persuade Him to get a sleeping compartment, but He simply replied, “We must all be together. The only purpose of this journey is to serve the Cause of God. We have no other aim. We will all sleep in our coach seats.”
(Earl Redman, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in Their Midst, p. 202)
One day as I was standing near the border of a little stream on Mt. Carmel, I noticed a number of locusts that had not yet developed full wings. These insects wishing to pass from my side of the stream to the other in order to procure some food, threw themselves forward, each one trying to emulate the other in flinging itself into the water, so that a bridge was formed in order that the others might pass over and this was accomplished; yet those who gave themselves as a bridge finally perished. Consider how much solidarity makes for life as compared to the fighting for self interest which destroys it.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Divine Philosophy, p. 187-188)
What most impressed ‘Roy’ was the spirit of sacrifice which he found among the Bahá’ís in the ‘Most Great Prison’. He noted that, ‘Nowhere have I witnessed such love, such perfect harmony. The desire of those in that prison was to serve one another.’
(Honnold, Annamarie, Vignettes from the Life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 82)