Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Most Exalted Pen and its Meaning in the Tablet of Ridvan

Selection XIV in Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, from the Tablet of Ridvan, will suffice for the purposes of this inquiry. It's opening is as follows.
The Divine Springtime is come, O Most Exalted Pen, for the Festival of the All-Merciful is fast approaching. Bestir thyself, and magnify, before the entire creation, the name of God, and celebrate His praise, in such wise that all created things may be regenerated and made new. (GWB XIV)

Before going any further a few initial observations can be made. This is an announcement
of The Divine Springtime, a period generally accepted as the spiritual regeneration that follows the arrival of a new Manifestation of God. The passage is addressed to a pen, the Most Exalted Pen, Qalam Al-A'la, an expression which is also translated as the Pen of the Most Exalted. The pen is instructed to do three things: 1) to bestir itself, 2) magnify, before the entire creation, the name of God, and 3) celebrate His praise. The effect of these tasks is that all created things may be regenerated and made new. The passage ends at a similar place as it begins. Spring has arrived. In response the Most Exalted Pen is instructed to take action such that the revitalization proper to that season is realized. In the first instance, springtime is an external condition which arrives upon the Pen. But by the second instance it is an event the realization of which it assists. The first condition under which this is possible is that the Pen bestirs itself. The process does not advance automatically. The Pen must be urged on to make itself arise for the accomplishment of the tasks ahead.
Within the text, the addressee is clearly stated, the Most Exalted Pen. At the surface of the text, no reader, presumably, is ever addressed by this text. The only addressee, it seems, is the reed, the dead vegetable matter by which the original manuscript was produced by Baha'u'llah or His amanuensis. One might be led to read this is as a mere spectator, not immediately involved except as a detached observer. In that case it would be a statement of Baha'u'llah on the station of the Word of God. But there is more to the matter than that. The Pen has been commanded to bestir itself. Dead vegetable matter cannot bestir itself. This is a long established conclusion within biology. The only way that it can be moved is if someone or something moves it, a movement over which the Pen has no control. But in the passages that follow, the Pen and it's Lord discuss the reasons for the silence of the former. A few quotes will suffice.
Methinks that thou hast halted and movest not upon My Tablet...
Preferrest thou to tarry when the breeze announcing the Day of God hath already breathed over thee, or art thou of them that are shut out as by a veil from Him?..
No veil whatever have I allowed, O Lord of all names and Creator of the heavens, to shut me from the recognition of the glories of Thy Day—the Day which is the lamp of guidance unto the whole world, and the sign of the Ancient of Days unto all them that dwell therein. My silence is by reason of the veils that have blinded Thy creatures’ eyes to Thee, and my muteness is because of the impediments that have hindered Thy people from recognizing Thy truth...
Arise, and proclaim unto the entire creation the tidings that He Who is the All-Merciful hath directed His steps towards the Ridván and entered it. ...
In short, the Pen has received instructions to magnify the name of God, and celebrate His praise before all people but the desired result has not come about. The discussion is on whether this is due to the Pen's hesitation and unwillingness or purely to the spiritual blindness of the people. It goes without saying that more is at stake in the full selection than the production of manuscripts, and that one of its primary aims is the instruction of the Baha'is in teaching the faith. This is evident to any of its readers who has ever confronted the practical and spiritual issues that arise when the community sets out to bring the faith to the world. So in some way, it is any rank-and-file Baha'i who is addressed as the Most Exalted Pen.
One consequence that immediately follows is that such a person is conceived as an instrument of God, a lesser being by which God commences a different sort of writing, the form one hears in the words: Write down, then, for me the good of this world and of the world to come (PMB CXXVIII) This is the writing associated with a royal edict. It is an indication of power and authority, in this case over the tablet of the world. Say: O people! How can a fleeting fancy compare with the Self-Subsisting, and how can the Creator be likened unto His creatures, who are but as the script of His Pen? (GWB XCIII) The action of such a person is brought under the command of God; He or she becomes the means by which God writes out the Divine Springtime. But one's freedom remains intact. The dialogue, one might even call it a consultation, between the Pen and its Lord presupposes a freedom of decision in the former on how to advance a chosen course of action.
There are two conflicting directions in which this selection leads the reader. One is in the decisive unequal relation of an instrument and its user. In this case the will and thought of one is all that makes a difference. The other is a more equal relation, in which the Lord urges the pen on in a course of action. Execution of the task at hand is not automatic, as in the use of an inanimate pen. Faithfulness to the text requires that the reader not reduce one direction into the other, erasing either the instrumentality of the pen or its freedom. Baha'u'llah presents both to the reader. The truth is in the tension of these two moments, not their resolution.
The matter is not explored theoretically in the algebra of theological discourse but is dramatized in the enactment of its reality, the struggle of the act of teaching. That the pen, in all its absurdity, is the image Baha'u'llah chooses suggests that there are very few images, perhaps none, that can even adequately convey the spiritual event in question. That the freely willed action of one can be the commanding action of another is exceedingly difficult to describe and advance within any metaphor. This is by no means an indication of its error. The mere proposal of a metaphor, however coherent, is no indication of an argument's rigor; So neither is an incapacity to propose an adequate metaphor any indication of error. What is depicted in this selection makes no sense. But this is an instance in which truth breaks away from the shadows of mere sense and its articulation in a body of acquired knowledge. The act of teaching is the enactment of this truth.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Oppression and its Meaning for Baha'u'llah

The coming of the end and the opening of the new comes about as a reversal of the oppression existing at the time. This is the most enduring feature of this ancient expectation and is for this reason a fundamental context within which to examine the Bab and Baha'u'llah's fulfillment of millenial hope. By examining what Baha'u'llah means by oppression, a Baha'i perspective on justice comes into view. What will become clear is that this pairing is related, fundamentally, to the diffusion, recognition, and application of divine guidance.

Innumerable passages from the world's scriptures anticipate that moment. For the purposes of brevity two will be cited. The first is a saying of Muhammad well known all Shias eagerly anticipating at the time of the Bab the end-times and the arrival of the Qa'im. He [the Qa'im] will then make the earth abound with peace and justice as it will have been fraught before him with persecution and oppression. The second is the passage from the Gospel of Mathew upon which Baha'u'llah comments at length in the Kitab-i-Iqan:

Immediately after the oppression of those days, the sun will be darkened, the moon will not give its light, the stars will fall from the sky and the powers of the heavens will be shaken... And they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. (Mt 24.29-30)

Paragraphs 28-31 in contemporary printings of the Kitab-i-Iqan mark out Baha'u'llah's discussion of the above verse. After describing various defining features and examples thereof, Baha'u'llah poses the rhetorical question:

What "oppression" is greater than that which hath been recounted. What oppression is more grievous than that a soul seeking the truth, and wishing to attain unto the knowledge of God, should know not where to go for it, and from whom to seek it? (KI 29)

There is justice in honoring one response a critic might offer to Baha'u'llah's question: genocide, war, famine, epidemic, racism, sexism, discrimination of any kind. These oppressions are far more grievous that that a person is deprived of spiritual truth. Such pain is irrelevant alongside the excruciating burden of material carnage. Fair enough. Such a critic has a strong sense of the challenges facing humanity today. But the focus on specific crimes is perhaps too narrow to encompass the model presented by Baha'u'llah. In the Kitab-i-Aqdas He writes: They whom God hath endued with insight will readily recognize that the precepts laid down by God constitute the highest means for the maintenance of order in the world and the security of its peoples. (K2) Spiritual prosperity contains within it its material counterpart. By attaining to God's most recent guidance, a soul, and the world more broadly, can make use of the highest means by which to address the horrors recounted above. to return to the Kitab-i-Iqan, one can detect the social consequences of this oppression in Baha'u'llah's introduction to the section on oppression, an unyielding condemnation of the clergy of His day.

Such a condition as this is witnessed in this day when the reins of every community have fallen into the grasp of foolish leaders, who lead after their own whims and desire.

[I]n idle fancy they have found the door that leadeth to earthly riches...

[A] number of voracious beasts have gathered and preyed upon the carrion of the souls of men. (KI 28)

By opposing oppression to the recognition of the newly revealed Word of God, one is correct in observing that, in a narrow sense, the Qa'im is not the one who fills the earth with peace and justice. After all, one of the central problems addressed in the Kitab-i-Iqan is that the Qa'im had come, was martyred, and still only a few had followed after Him. If anybody carries out the prophesied task, it is the believers who accept the new revelation following His death. And this is exactly where the material concrete dimensions of justice come into view. The Qa'im initiates a process, within which He sets the course of action by means of His writings, a process that includes and is advanced by the masses of human believers. Baha'u'llah takes up the same theme later in the Kitab-i-Iqan when He discusses the sovereignty of the Manifestation of God and that it is established only to a limited extent during His own lifetime. (KI 114-117)

One could say that Baha'u'llah dodges the real question: How could the Bab be the Qa'im if he didn't fulfill the prophecy? Fair enough. But Baha'u'llah's move is not a dodge so much as it is a deferral, a deferral to human action that is pivotal to the theological framework He sets out in the Kitab-i-Iqan. Baha'u'llah extends the conditions under which the Qa'im takes action to include the mobilization of His followers in His absence. In this world, the Qa'im is but one man. Barring a catastrophic world-miracle, He is in need of assistants to carry out such a dramatic transformation. God in His essence may be without partner. But insofar as He is made manifest with the form of an ordinary human being, the Qa'im is not.

This human assistance is born out in both Christian and Shia Islamic prophecy. In the gospels of Mathew and Mark Jesus describes His return as being accompanied by angels. And he [the Son of Man] will send his angels with a loud trumpet to gather His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. Furthermore it is understood that the Qa'im will lead armies across the earth in the execution of His mission. After all, He is the Imam Al-Zaman, Leader of the Age. One can only be a leader if there are those, however few at first, who are led. Worth noting is that oppression of those days is delayed beyond the passing of the Manifestation.

By [oppression] is meant that when the Daystar of Truth hath set, and the mirrors that reflect His light have departed, mankind will become afflicted with "oppression" and hardship, not knowing whither to turn for guidance. (KI 30)

Oppression is held back not just by the Manifestation of God but also by the mirrors that reflect His light. Just as in His discussion of sovereignty later on, the influence, in these words the light of the Manifestation, is extended beyond His limited existence by the aid of a supplement, an assistant, a soul that faithfully lives by the teachings of God. The mirror does not give off its own image. It extends that of another. It takes part in the Appearence, the Mazhar of God (Mazhar usually being translated as Manifestation). In this sense there is justice in including such mirrors within the use of the word "He" in the saying of Muhammad: He will then make the earth abound with peace and justice as it will have been fraught before Him with persecution and oppression. Qa'im (He who ariseth) refers primarily to the Manifestation of God but extends to, and is extended by those who arise to serve his His Cause.

The oppression of the Manifestation of God is comprised not so much of offenses against His person, but of a whole variety of deeds by which humanity is severed from the guidance of His teachings. Justice is the integrity of this connection. When interrrupted it has consequences on both material and spiritual prosperity. Baha'u'llah's initial banishment to Akka was oppressive because lines of communication with Iran were broken; And what accounts did get through contained slanders and news of misbehavior that confused and distracted the Baha'is from the world embracing aims of the faith. The scheming of covenant-breakers and external enemies, the criminal deeds of Baha'is in Akka all produced the same result; attention was drawn away from substantial matters of global significance towards petty controversies. The oppressors were those who squandered, for all humanity, the precious opportunity of a living Manifestation of God. Baha'u'llah was impaired in His ability to raise up a community capable of carrying His mission forward following His death. The triumphs that mark that age are evident; But history will never know to what heights the Baha'is, and with them the whole world, could have soared had the twin Manifestations not been chained up by such small minds.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

To Recognize God

And as for 'irfan, what can it mean? How does Baha'u'llah use this word?

Undoubtedly, one of the few concepts around which the entirety of the Baha'i faith could be said to revolve is 'irfan, typically tranlated as true understanding, recognition, knowledge (of which all could be addended with "of God") It names the point at which a soul enters into a relation of truth with God's manifestation, and initiates a life of service unto Him. How this comes about, when, and what outward signs it produces are currently some of the most fruitful and engaging theological discussions happening at this time within the Baha'i community; for at its heart is an inquiry as to what exactly makes somebody a Baha'i. Without directly engaging these specific discussions (I'd rather defer to "learning in action" taking place all over the world.) I'd like to capture in writing a brief impression left by the Baha'i writings on the meaning of 'irfan: true understanding, the recognition of the Manifestation of God.

It seems 'irfan is a gratification of spiritual sense, analagous to that of the five bodily senses. The parallelism of soul and body, the very invocation of the latter as metaphor, is exactly that which sets them apart, dividing bodily gratification from spiritual gratification. In the writings the turning of a soul towards its lord is indicated by means of a long series of sensual images: the beauty of the beloved, the light of dawn, the warmth of the fire, the scent of the true Joseph's garment. The soul is caught up in the pleasure of an other. These are not moments in which the soul labors for the sake of something else. They are not means towards another end. They are presented as experiences desirable for their own sake. 'Irfan is simple gratification. Each image Baha'u'llah invokes expresses in its own way a founding motivation, a pleasure irreducible to and underivable for any impetus besides itself.

In so many words, 'irfan is what comes first. This priority, this firstness, is the mark of God's sovereignty on the recognizing soul, its commissioning and setting-apart for a life distinguished by service to the object of its desire. In addition, it is the initiation of a relation of truth with the object. Here, at the risk of entrapping the new Beloved within one's own conceptions, the soul begins to learn the other and learn from the other.

Your Cat,
Mirza Qasim Al-Qatt

Saturday, May 3, 2008

"Being Human" in the Day of God

In numerous places, the central figures of the Baha'i faith speak of Baha'u'llah's arrival as the sign of humanity's coming of age. Millennia of practice in the revealed religions combined with greater contact between the world's peoples have uniquely qualified this juncture in history for securing the unity and prosperity of all humanity. This maturity is in some sense already achieved with the coming of Baha'u'llah. But to a large extent it is waiting to be seized. For this reason, a long struggle is required. The following passage charts out the connection between the nobility of the human form and the realization of the new era, the Day of God.

The All-Merciful hath conferred upon man the faculty of vision, and endowed him with the power of hearing. Some have described him as the “lesser world,” when, in reality, he should be regarded as the “greater world.” The potentialities inherent in the station of man, the full measure of his destiny on earth, the innate excellence of his reality, must all be manifested in this promised Day of God. (GWB CLXII)

Baha'u'llah's designation of humanity as a greater rather than lesser world expresses a basic optimism in human nature. Human beings no doubt are worthy of both praise and rebuke. But its is humanity's power towards good, his divinely bestowed nobility that makes the difference for Baha'u'llah. So in His writings "being human" is not synonymous with lowliness. Exaltation is the rule and not the exception. This is seen whenever the Baha'i writings speak of the human form in general as distinct from particular human actions.

Throughout the Baha'i writings humanity is understood as a high ranking occupant within a cosmic hierarchy of beings. God is at the top, while bare matter is at the bottom. Humanity stands imbetween God and the Animal. Each level of the hierarchy represents a particular quality. Beings exhibit those qualities represented by their level and all levels below them. Abdu'l Baha spoke frequently of this arrangement in His travels through the United States and Europe. Its language is immediately recognizable to anyone familiar with his manner of discussion. At the bottom of the hierarchy is bare matter, the Mineral. Immediately above it is the Vegetable, which in addition to bare matter is also endowed with the power of growth. The Animal in turn possesses the power of sense perception. Finally, the Human consummates and recapitulates these lower levels in the possession of an intellect. For this reason, Abdu'l Baha declares that, [t]he most noble and praiseworthy accomplishment of man therefore is scientific knowledge and attainment. (Foundations of World Unity 48-49) Science then is the expression of humanity's preeminence over lower forms of creation.

Through the possession of an intellect humanity humanity is endowed with what Abdu'l Baha regards as the most praiseworthy power of man, the ability to struggle back against the natural world. He goes on,

The earth and its myriad organisms, all minerals, plants and animals are thralls of its dominion. But man through the exercise of his scientific, intellectual power can rise out of this condition, can modify, change and control nature according to his own wishes and uses. Science, so to speak, is the “breaker” of the laws of nature. (49)

Trans-oceanic sailing, airplanes, submarines, and electric light are all offered as examples of "law-breaking." Humanity is a creature empowered in a wide variety of ways to assert his will to life over and against the natural world. To a large extent He is a creature who by means of himself is empowered to live for himself. Through the bestowal of an intellect humanity can attain to prosperity in this world as well as in the next. That salvation as well comes as a self-salvation is pivotal in understanding the role of human nature in the Day of God. Through the mobilization of powers bestowed innately on the human form the Manifestation of God expresses his dominion over humanity through the ascendency and influence of human servants. Thus the passage: The Purpose of the one true God, exalted be His glory, in revealing Himself unto men is to lay bare those gems that lie hidden within the mine of their true and inmost selves. (GWB CXXXII)

In one particularly revealing passage Baha'u'llah rank orders God's gifts to humanity. The first is understanding, the purpose of which is to know and recognize the one true God. (GWB XCV) It furthermore empowers humanity to discern the truth in all things, leadeth him to that which is right, and helpeth him to discover the secrets of creation. Below this is vision and below it the other senses. However, the picture is incomplete if one were to suppose that humanity is his own greatest gift. Baha'u'llah trumps His earlier statements by explaining that Divine Revelation is preeminent above these earlier gifts. He goes on to state that [e]very bounty conferred by the Creator upon man, be it material or spiritual, is subservient unto this. Along the same lines He states in another writing: Neither the candle nor the lamp can be lighted through their own unaided efforts, nor can it ever be possible for the mirror to free itself from its dross. (GWB XXVII) In both passages Divine Revelation is the force activating those energies latent within the human form.

In an almost paradoxical twist Baha'u'llah elsewhere affirms the pivotal role of free choice and human volition in activating these latent energies. Unto each one hath been prescribed a pre-ordained measure, as decreed in God’s mighty and guarded Tablets. All that which ye potentially possess can, however, be manifested only as a result of your own volition. Your own acts testify to this truth. (GWB LXXVII) In the same passage Baha'ullah goes on to state that the foreknowledge of God does not cause human behavior, that it is instead the mere beholding of freely willed acts.

The juxtaposition of humanity's simultaneous dependence on both Divine Revelation and free will to set in motion these latent energies frames effectively the historical destiny the Baha'i writings ascribe to humanity. Though this age has been assigned as the dawning of the Day of God, humanity is not dragged along as a spectator. Action is required. Choices must be made. New beginnings must be called into being.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Number and Manifestation

The relation between the Manifestations' divine and human natures becomes most perplexing when Baha'u'llah discusses how they fit, or rather don't fit, into the cosmic hierarchy. By denying a clear position within the cosmic hierarchy, Baha'u'llah exposes a certain ineffability to the Manifestation with regard to number. In view is not just the transcendent Essence of God, but His Manifestation in this world, the point of mediation between the Creator and creation. Worth remembering are Baha'u'llah's words: O children of the divine and invisible Essence! Ye shall be hindered from loving Me and souls shall be perturbed as they make mention of Me. For minds cannot grasp Me nor hearts contain Me. (AHW 66)

First, the implications of God's transcendent unity must be made clear. To grasp or contain is to form a bounded unity. As a hand closes around something it restricts its movement within a limited space. It sets an interior apart from an exterior and secures their clear separation. This is the movement of minds and hearts that fails when performed on God. To think of God as an interior thing with a non-Divine exterior is to conceive of Him as one would a body, inasmuch as it is through this interior/exterior distinction that all "bodies" become present in perception. The failure of the grasp is due to the error of conceiving God and bodies horizontally, as comparable beings on a common plane. Under such an assumption God's unity would come about by drawing a distinction between God and not-God. It is a unity that at once requires a multiplicity, a duality with not-God. Consider then these words:

He is a true believer in Divine unity who, far from confusing duality with oneness, refuseth to allow any notion of multiplicity to becloud his conception of the singleness of God, who will regard the Divine Being as One Who, by His very nature, transcendeth the limitations of numbers. (Gleanings LXXXIV)

It should not be concluded though, that God's unity is only possible once any idea of not-God is abolished, thus making all things God. Such a conclusion would wrongly assume that God and any ideas composed about Him perfectly correspond to each other, that their inner orders are interchangable. The alternative, indeed the only one, is to think of God within a provisional but impossible framework for which no possible replacement is conceivable. This is that ideas about God take place within multiplicity but refer to that which is outside this world of distinction, the place of placelessness, the outside of outsideness. With this in mind the unity of God can be thought of as a total absence of distinction, distinguishing it from this world of distinguishability. It might be said that God is invisible not so much because we are blind to Him, but because nothing can be seen in pure light or pure darkness. The contrast between light and shadow is needed to make out, grasp, and contain distinguishable forms. Without contrast it is utterly concealed. Such is the unity of God, a purity which no mind can grasp nor heart contain.

One such provisional but impossible framework is to think of God as occupying a station, a proper place within a hierarchy of the cosmos, that situates Him in relation to other things, each with their own station. Humanity, animals, plants, and minerals can then be thought alongside God within a united and coherent order. Everything within the hierarchy is understandable inasmuch as they can be confined to a particular station. This confinement though is of course the same attempt at grasping and containing encountered in the Hidden Words.

Baha'u'llah features the hierarchical model in His writings. But in a way He undermines it by including within it its very impossibility. He does this by assigning two stations to each of the Manifestations of God, two stations which he at no point condenses into one. This means that the Manifestation of God is not a station. Instead it is the simultaneous occupation of two. The first is the station of essential unity and pertains to that of God made manifest in each of them. From this perspective the Manifestation is sovereign. The other is the station of distinction and pertains to the human aspect of each one. From this perspective they are each the servants of God. (KI 191) The double station of the Manifestation appears as an anomaly, a logical impossibility within the hierarchical model that troubles the entire theological edifice. One must be either here or there. Both cannot be the case simultaneously. But if that is their appearance, their manifestation, then the hierarchical model cannot give an account of the event for which it is deployed to make understandable. In its grasping and containing, the event in question slips through its fingers and is made manifest as a double station. So the double station must be understood as the failure of the grasp rather than its fruit. It is a statement of ineffability and not of systematic structure.

With that in mind, the task of thinking the Manifestation of God must consider the matter that brought about the double station, the question of the Manifestation's number. By exceeding classification within a single station the Manifestation exceeds being grasped as one. Furthermore, the Manifestation exceeds being grasped as the sum of two terms, which itself is a sort of unity. Furthermore, the first term in the equation is God, Who transcendeth the limitations of numbers. One station pertains to the transcendent unity of God. While the other pertains to the plurality of humans who have been the thrones and messengers of that unity. Within each Manifestation there is a tension and overarching embrace between God's transcendent unity and the corporeal nature of each human, which within itself is marked by plurality. Bounded off from other creatures on one end, while open to God on the other, the double station requires the Manifestation to be thought as neither singular nor plural. The "number" of the Manifestation must be distinguished from "numbers." As the form of the grasp, the number one is out of the question. And with it goes any other number inasmuch as it is derived from the addition(s) of one onto itself.

the number of the Manifestation could possibly be left alone as a theological obscurity like the Trinity or the Immaculate Conception were it not for the implications it has on the relationship between the Manifestations of God and the rank and file of the communities they represent. This is because the relation between God and the Manifestation is analogous to the relation between the latter and His believers. Both use the imagery of light in a mirror. The two relations reflect in each other the theme of reflection. Consider this passage of Baha'u'llah.

Every one of them is a mirror of God, reflecting naught else but His Self, His Beauty, His Might and Glory, if ye will understand. All else besides them are to be regarded as mirrors capable of reflecting the glory of these Manifestations Who are themselves the Primary Mirrors of the Divine Being, if ye be not devoid of understanding. (Gleanings XXX)

Both relationships are understood in terms of the reflection of light from another. So it is understandable then that the same perplexities encountered between God and the Manifestation should be reflected in the analogous relationship. If it could be said that the former relationship primarily concerns the Revelation of the Word of God then the latter relationship primarily concerns the believer's action commissioned by that Word. The relation between the designations divine and human should next be considered as it pertains to this action.

Your Cat

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Transcendence and Manifestation

Any examination of salvific action, of any sort of interpenetration of divine and human action, must proceed from its theological basis in divine transcendence. This is the logical order expressed in the opening paragraphs of the second part of the Kitab-i-Iqan, the most well-known, concise, and perhaps most comprehensive explanation Baha'u'llah offers of these themes. It is these passages that provide an effective starting point for pursuing salvific action throughout Baha'ullah's writings, from Baghdad to Bahji.

Baha'u'llah argues that God in His essence is absolutely different from His creatures. Corporeal existence, ascent and descent, egress and regress are human forms that do not apply to Him. He standeth exalted beyond all separation and union, all proximity and remoteness. All creation and its accompanying order has come into being through His Primal Will. Because He is the one who decides upon the form and content of the law He is not bound by it. But knowledge is only possible where such law is binding. For this reason, God is invisible to His creatures as their creator even though He is the one that makes their vision possible. The unreciprocality of this arrangement is well stated in the Quranic verse Baha'u'llah quotes, no vision taketh in Him, but He taketh in all vision. He is the Subtle the All Perceiving. (6.103) The transcendence of God rules out any sort of direct one-to-one encounter between the Creator and creation at the Day of Judgment. (K104 p.90)

The manifestation of Divine Sovereignty must in some way be from creation-to-creation so as to remain visible and knowable, but at the same time remain in the necessary downward motion of Creator-to-creation. Baha'u'llah lays out His doctrine of the Manifestation of God in the tension between these two dynamics. There must then be a mediator who represents both the Creator and creation. Baha'u'llah writes,

The door of the Ancient of Days being thus closed in the face of all beings, the Source of infinite grace...hath caused those luminous Gems of Holiness to appear out of the realm of the spirit, in the noble form of the human temple, and be made manifest unto all men, that they may impart unto the world the mysteries of the unchangeable Being, and tell of the subtleties of His imperishable Essence. (KI106 p.91)

The divinely ordained Founders of Religion are made to stand at the threshold of the visible and the invisible so as to mediate between God and other humans. They are the mouthpiece of God in human history and the pivots on which turns His manifest sovereignty. Baha'u'llah uses the metaphor of a mirror reflecting the light of the sun to explain the mediating role played by such souls. The central concept undergirding this doctrine is Baha'u'llah's understanding of the names and attributes of God.

Within the metaphor the essences of God and the human correspond respectively to sun and the mirror. The names and attributes of God correspond to the light that originates in the former and is reflected in the latter. All knowledge, dominion, and love come from God, the unknowable essence. But they can be made manifest in this world making them the content of manifestation and the bridge that crosses the otherwise unbridgeable void between the Creator and creation. This is the model Baha'u'llah adopts for explaining how a transcendent god manifests His will within His creation.

Baha'u'llah outlines three levels at which the names and attributes of God are made manifest. The first of which is all things. He writes, within every atom are enchrined the signs that bear eloquent testimony to the revelation of that most great Light. Methinks but for the potency of that revelation, no being could ever exist. (KI107 p.92) The second of which is humanity, who not only manifests the names and attributes to a supreme degree but is also capable of manifesting all of them. For in him are potentially revealed all the attributes and names of God...All these names and attributes are applicable to him. Baha'u'llah supports these assertions using a number of Quranic verses and Islamic traditions, including the saying He hath known God who hath known himself. After repeating the capacities of all things and humanity, He explains a third and final level, the Manifestations of the Sun of Truth. (KI109 p.94-95) Whereas all names and attributes are potentially revealed in man, they are actually revealed in the Manifestations. Furthermore, all else besides these Manifestations live by they operation of their Will, and move, and have their being through the outpourings of their grace, all of this in the noble form of the human temple. So pervasive a power and so universal an influence is all potentially revealed in the spiritual form given to all humanity by God.

Your Cat

an Interlude

The Bab witnessed entry of the masses into His movement even without the wide dissemination of His writings. Because of this, those entering the movement lacked a sense of the future. For they had little to no framework by which to determine its shape. The Babi possessed only a tradition based on promise, and even at that, a suspended tradition of an uncertain destiny. Centuries of waiting had prepared people for little more than more waiting. So the promise's very fulfillment brought about the tradition's transfiguration beyond recognition. The task of the Babi was to walk by the light of a darkened tradition towards a light still below the horizon.

Your Cat

Monday, April 14, 2008

a Theory on the Indiscernability between Divine and Human Action

One key aim of the Kitab-i-Iqan is to diminish to an extent the uniqueness of the end-times by positioning it as the coming of a divine Revelation resembling those of the past. Because the physical creation is not destroyed, any prophecies of divine justice in those days must then be projected across the surface of human history yet to come. The long-awaited millenium, the period of divine justice following the end-times would then arrive without the cosmic annhilation expected by most. But by projecting divine justice across an earthly future, Baha'u'llah's framework raises questions as to who is to be enacting this salvation. At no time did Baha'u'llah ever perform a sort of world-miracle by which all society is instantly transformed into a world of justice. This appears to leave humanity the task of accomplishing such justice. That Baha'u'llah's writings give such voluminous instruction on the establishment of a global civilization backs this up. But all along He continues to ascibe its arrival to divine action.

Curiosity demands that a way be found to understand the relationship between human and divine action in the plan for salvation. Mutual exclusion is unsatisfactory. It's not enough to say it's one or the other. What follows is a theory of salvific action, the will towards salvation, that charts out one way that spiritual and material prosperity is accomplished in this world.

Salvation in this world by the Baha'i understanding cannot be attributed exclusively to either divine or human action. Neither should it be regarded as the sum of these two components. Rather, one form of its manifestation is as the product of an ineffable power that both embraces and exceeds the designations "divine" and "human." It embraces inasmuch as neither God or humanity take on an entirely passive instrumental role, subsuming one into the other. Both retain their distinctive agency. And it exceeds inasmuch as neither designation can provide by itself an exhaustative account of the action in question. If this form of salvation is always both divine and human, but never one or the other, then one is led to speak of some sort of unified reality, however ineffable, distinct from the two-ness of the previous formulation, however real that two-ness might be. An insistance on the unconditional applicability of numbers to this ineffable power is an impediment to its understanding. This has enormous consequences for how to think the spiritual dimensions of social action in a Baha'i context.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

4) Preliminary Thoughts on Human Nobility

Everyday all around the world students in Baha’i children’s classes learn about unity by standing side by side with another person, tying their inside ankles together and walking around as if they shared three legs between the two of them. At first they walk together only awkwardly. The two feet that make up the middle foot brush past each other in opposite directions. One kid tries to go too fast and falls down. The other is jerked forward by the momentum of the fall. After some giggling they figure out that they need to coordinate their movements if they are going to walk together. Once on the same page they advance in one forward motion. The rag that binds their ankles together no longer jerks and pulls. It rests comfortably on the children’s ankles. For they have become as one body, harmoniously directed by two distinct minds. One way that Baha’u’llah explains spiritual knowledge follows the same pattern.

With regard to the saying, He hath known God who hath known himself, Baha’u’llah has written,

I swear by God, O esteemed and honoured friend! Shouldst thou ponder these words in thine heart, thou wilt of a certainty find the doors of divine wisdom and infinite knowledge flung open before thy face. (KI 108 pp.93-94)

Hmmmm……sounds like a dare.

Perhaps the saying could be rephrased: If one has self-knowledge then he has attained as well to the knowledge of God. Knowledge of oneself is a condition that once met results in knowledge of God. Couple that then with the Qur’anic verse Baha’u’llah quotes immediately before the above saying. And be ye not like those who forget God, and whom He hath therefore caused to forget their own selves. (59.19) In this verse forgetfulness of God results in forgetfulness of self. Or to rephrase it in the positive: remembrance of God makes possible the remembrance (knowledge) of one’s own self. In both of these, a person’s knowledge of oneself and of God are bound together. Though Baha’u’llah is always quick to point out the transcendence of God above His creatures, he is not deterred from conveying that in some way the knowledge of both are united. As one rises, so does the other. As one falls, the other quickly follows. God and humanity retain their distinctive conditions. But knowledge of each depends on the other. Knowledge of self and of God are not mutually exclusive realities. They are not opposing ends of a spectrum. Instead, spiritual knowledge is a heterogeneous condition embracing both Creator and creation, uniting the two, but retaining the distinctiveness inherent to each. This too is a lesson in unity.


Every prophecy of the end-times shares in common the arrival of a sovereign lord who establishes God’s order by shattering to some extent the world’s order. For it is God’s re-appropriation of what is properly His. So no explanation of end-times prophecy as comprehensive as Baha'u'llah's could be complete without giving a proper account of God’s sovereignty, how it is established at the time of the end, and by implication, how it in some way had been lost. There is good sense then that Baha’u’llah begins the second part of the Kitab-i-Iqan with an explanation of the sovereignty that God exercises in each of his Manifestations, among whom is the Qa’im. He is quick to point out to the reader that each of these figures becomes manifest by means of a human form. That the human condition is essential to understanding God’s sovereignty is born out by the effort Baha’u’llah makes to convey it's nobility while still in the process of explaining His doctrine of the Manifestation of God. These two ideas are tied together very closely....perhaps at the ankles.

to be continued,
Your Cat

Friday, March 28, 2008

3) on Welding, that from the Word springs Unity

In the transition from one religious arrangement to another each person walks the path of consternation individually. This is why the opening passage of the book No man shall attain... is written in the singular rather than the plural. Because the Word of God is empowered to tear apart the social fabric, the basic unit of divine judgment is progressively individuated. But the Kitab-i-Iqan is by no means an unconditional affirmation of individualism or a sacralization of divisions. The same Word of God that tears sons from their fathers, students from their teachers also binds believers into a new unity, a new community. After explaining the divisive power of the Word of God Baha'u'llah directs the reader towards its goal. Of Muhammad He writes,

On the other hand, consider the welding power of His Word. Observe, how those in whose midst the Satan of self had for years sown the seeds of malice and hate became so fused and blended through their allegiance to this wondrous and transcendent Revelation that it seemed as if they had sprung from the same loins. Such is the binding force of the Word of God, which uniteth the hearts of them that have renounced all else but Him, who have believed in His signs, and quaffed from the Hand of glory the Kawthar of God’s holy grace. (KI 118 pp. 103)

By noting the forging of a new community as a result of Muhammad's revelation, Baha'u'llah foreshadows His later teachings on global civilization and the power of His own Word to bring it about. With the privilege of our 20/20 hindsight the imprint of Baha'u'llah's Akka writings is unmistakable. He continues,

Furthermore, how numerous are those peoples of divers beliefs, of conflicting creeds, and opposing temperaments, who, through the reviving fragrance of the Divine springtime, breathing from the Riḍván of God, have been arrayed with the new robe of divine Unity, and have drunk from the cup of His singleness! (KI 118 pp. 103)

At this point Baha'u'llah has a fully-fledged account of the transition from one religious arrangement to another. The Word of God both tears down and builds up the heavens and the earth, enacting an event that cuts through and rejuvenates the spiritual body at both individual and collective levels.

Your Cat

Thursday, March 27, 2008

2) on Consternation, that there must be Division

One of Baha'u'llah's key aims in the Kitab-i-Iqan is to diminish (to an extent) the uniqueness of the Qa'im's exercise of divine sovereignty. He writes, This sovereignty hath not been solely and exclusively attributed to the Qa'im. Nay, rather the attribute of sovereignty and all other names and attributes of God have been and will ever be vouchsafed unto all the Manifestations of God. (KI 113 pp.98) The effect of this claim is to transform the Qa'im in the minds of His readers into a figure after whom there is a future, who is an initiator as well as a destroyer, and whose mission would bear resemblance to those of figures who have come before. Baha'u'llah takes Muhammad as an example.

Rather than just positioning the Day of Judgment in the future Baha'u'llah argues that the coming of Muhammad, a moment in the past was a Day of Judgment. The defining event of such a Day is the demarcation between the righteous and the wicked, which according to a particular tradition referenced by Baha'u'llah was accomplished through the utterance of one verse. Some accepted and received the spiritual life that comes from faith. The rest rejected the word of God and were thus abandoned to the death of unbelief. (KI 118 pp. 102)

Notable in Baha'u'llah's interpretation is the location of judgment on the aforementioned Day. God does not pronounce a verdict upon passive defendants in His cosmic courtroom. Instead, He sets up a situation by means of His Word in which those involved must come to a judgment regarding whether or not God has spoken and whether or not to obey. The people decide for themselves. This is absolutely crucial. It is the entrance of human agency into the end-times drama of divine justice. People do not just go where they are led. They are forced to think, decide, act, and deal with the consequences of this sequence in this our earthly life. In other words, a Day of Judgment is not the end of human agency. But rather it is its coming of age, a coming into one's own. Creativity is an essential virtue in the end-times, for it gestures at once to the promise of a new creation and as well to the human capacity for innovation and productivity. Interaction between divine and human agency is thus an essential characteristic of divine justice.


Another example from the life of Muhammad to which Baha'u'llah refers is the changing of the Qiblih, the point on the Earth towards which certain prayer is directed. Once again, people are forced to think, decide, and act, producing a demarcation between the faithful and the unfaithful. Under increasing pressure from the Jews of Medina for Islam to more exactly reproduce Jewish tradition, Muhammad abruptly changed the Qiblih from Jerusalem, the seat of Judaism, to Mecca, the seat of Arab religion, during communal prayers. Suffice to say, this was deeply unsettling to these Jewish followers of Muhammad. Many left Islam on the spot. After all, at Medina this is nearly a 180 degree turn away from Jerusalem. Muhammad was literally turning his back on the symbol of all Jewish memory, pride, and hope. Even worse, He was turning in the direction of the Ka'bih shrine which at that point had not yet been cleansed of its idols. In Baha'u'llah's interpretation the consternation caused by this event is not an undesirable side effect of a necessary action. It is the decisive play within a general strategy of demarcation that is deployed within every Revelation. He writes, Yea, such things as throw consternation into the hearts of all men come to pass only that each may be tested by the touchstone of God, that true may be known from the false. (KI 55 pp. 48) In the image of Muhammad and His Jewish followers turning towards each other and against each other, towards separate Qiblihs is found a tearing, a friction, a painful tension that cuts straight through the spiritual body at both the individual and communal levels. It is the inner and outer cleaving that defines the spiritual terrain of the Kitab-i-Iqan's end-times perspective.

Earlier, I wrote of an explosive reversal of received wisdom within the Kitab-i-Iqan: that the destruction and re-creation spoken of in end-times prophecy corresponds to the arrangement of the human person and not of the physical universe. Consternation can be seen as the turning point of this event. For, it makes possible a radical transformation of the individual, the primary site of which is the inherited tradition of law (perhaps law of tradition) inasmuch as it defines his or her existence.

Baha'u'llah interprets the Quranic verse when the heavens shall be cloven asunder (82.1) as a reference to the setting aside of a previous Revelation in favor of a new one along the terrain of religious law and tradition. He writes,

That a divine Revelation which for years hath been securely established; beneath whose shadow all who have embraced it have been reared and nurtured; by the light of whose law generations of men have been disciplined; the excellency of whose word men have heard recounted by their fathers; in such wise that human eye hath beheld naught but the pervading influence of its grace, and mortal eye hath heard naught but the pervading influence of its grace, and mortal ear hath heard naught but the resounding majesty of its command- what act is mightier than that such a Revelation should by the power of God be "cloven asunder" and be abolished at the appearance of one soul?
(KI 46 pp. 41-42)

Having become the common sense, any alteration of the established Revelation appears to its deepened practitioners as a violation of religion itself, a cleaving in the very fabric of sense. The new Revelation then appears to be quite "senseless." After all, what's wrong with the old one? Has it not been given to us by God? Historically speaking this cleaving of the inherited common sense is the Bab. There are few better ways to describe His incorporation of just about every major heresy from that part of the Islamic world: Hurufi numerology, Ismaili continuing revelation, native Iranian fire imagery, not to mention His iconoclastic and provocative approach to His claim to be the promised Qa'im of Shia Islam. His method of awakening the people of the world could be likened to the sharp sting that is best induced by a well-timed bucket of icy water. A hardening tradition of Islam had seized Iran and it was the place of the Bab to rattle the world into a new era. The site of this struggle was the communal conception of spiritual reality that structured people's conceptions of their very selves and strategic consternation was an invaluable instrument.

Upsetting old patterns of life, the cleaving of the heavens sets the stage for new patterns, new life, within each person. Baha'u'llah makes this move in His interpretation of the Quranic expression changing of the earth. Know thou that upon the hearts the bountiful showers of mercy, raining from the "heaven" of divine Revelation, have fallen, the earth of those hearts hath verily changed into the earth of divine knowledge and wisdom. (KI 48 pp. 42-43) And later, Reflect thou, how, in one hand, He hath, by His mighty grasp, turned the earth of knowledge and understanding, previously unfolded into a mere handful, and, on the other, spread out a new and highly exalted earth in the hearts of men. (KI 51 pp. 45) The human person, transformed by the Word of God, is then the new creation promised in end-times prophecy. Divine justice arrives as a person, one who far from being terminated, has come finally into a new maturity, a coming into oneself as human.

Your Cat

1) on the End, that there is a Future

No man shall attain the shores of the ocean of true understanding except he be detached from all that is in heaven and on earth.

Thus begins Baha'u'llah's Kitab-i-Iqan, the central aim of of which is to explain and defend claims made by the Bab that He fulfills Shia Islamic end-times prophesies of the Qa'im. Central among the prophecies is that the Qa'im will fill the earth with justice even as the earth is currently filled with injustice. In fact, it is this expectation of divine justice that undergirds every prophecy of "end-times," Shia Islamic or not. Baha'u'llah may not directly address in the Kitab-i-Iqan what we moderns would call "social justice." But in an Islamic context, the end-times is the topic par excellence within which to address such concerns. The Kitab-i-Iqan should then be interpreted as a foundational text on social justice, rather than a catalogue of specifics.

Traditionally, the end-times are thought of as a transformation, even a destruction of the physical world. It is in keeping then with this end-times context that Baha'u'llah begins with a statement on a person's relationship with heaven and earth. Furthermore the end-times are traditionally regarded as free will's expiration date, when all the choices one has made in life are added up and a place is assigned for their possessor among either the righteous or the wicked. What will be seen though is that the attainment of these shores speaks more to a beginning than it does to an end, and that it is in this that Baha'u'llah charts out a distinctively Baha'i world-view.


Juan Cole interprets Baha'u'llah's message as the reversal of various traditional arrangements at the time within Islam and contemporary cultures. He identifies five. But others are clearly implied by other arguments in Modernity and the Millennium.

Where Religion had mandated war, it now mandated peace;
where it had ordained a lesser status for non-believers, it now required equality;
where it had persecuted the non-conformist, it now guarenteed freedom of belief;
where it had sought to rule, it now left government to civil authorities;
where it had viewed non-believers as the Other, it now promoted political union among the earth's diverse peoples.
(Modernity and the Millennium 138)

Furthermore, Baha'u'llah argued for the equality of men and women, mandated the equitable distribution of wealth, and prophesied the demise of various elites, along with the triumph of popular sovereignty. Cole's analysis is sound but he restrains his analysis of the theme of reversal to writings that come after Baha'u'llah's Ridvan declaration. While recognizing that the Kitab-i-Iqan is an important move towards separation of religion and state, he fails to recognize in the book the explosive reversal of received tradition from which all the above reversals must be derived: that the destruction and re-creation spoken of in end-times prophecy corresponds to the arrangement of the human person and not of the physical universe. The first implication of this foundational truth is that the Day of Judgment tests revitalizes and unleashes human freedom and power rather than terminating it in an all-consuming annihilation. The reversals that take place in Baha'u'llah's later writings are only coherent with His end-time claims within the context of this assertion that our life in this world has a future worth seizing.

Your Cat

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Dispersed Thoughts towards Something Bigger

As internet access allows I will be using this space more and more for discussing Baha'u'llah's understanding of human nature especially as it relates to divine nature. I'll be putting the most focus on the Kitab-i-Iqan, but it's centrality to the Baha'i message means that many other Baha'i writings will be brought into view. Right now it is my contention that the whole faith revolves around the principle elaborated in verse 22 of the Arabic Hidden Words: O Son of Spirit! Noble have I created thee, yet thou hast abased thyself. Rise then unto that for which thou was created. Building off of this idea, the Kitab-i-Iqan is then one long ode to this fundamental nobility. Furthermore it is His last major work before His declaration as the world-messiah promised by the Bab. So for that reason its revelation stands at the threshold of Baha'u'llah's transition from the foremost Babi, to the expounder of His own faith, which itself is a sort of extended elaboration on the principle enshrined in the words, Rise then...

But before I do any of that I want to blather on for awhile about a debate within Baha'i scholarship.

Unmistakably, there is an evolution in the tone and content of Baha'u'llah's writings as His ministry continues. Earlier writings are first and foremost mystical treatises. Writings after his declaration tend to emphasize his station as a world-messiah in whom all history past and future is consummated. Later writings then focus on providing guidance for a global religious community and New World Order.

Traditionally, it has been assumed that these different periods are different aspects of one universal message. But In recent years, the unity and coherence of this diversity has been called into question. This has most been the case among the Talisman scholars, particularly Juan Cole. Whether it be the abrogation of Islamic-Babi principles and worldviews, changes in political strategy, or sudden interest in new foreign influences, changes in tone and content were interpreted more as repudiation rather than development of past beliefs. Among others, Nader Saiedi has contended with this view by pointing out passages that either hearken back to, or foreshadow themes that appear in far greater prominence at other periods of Baha'u'llah's writings, e.g. world unity in the Baghdad writings, or Sufism in the Akka writings. His view is that Baha'u'llah's writings build upon each other and that all other stages of His ministry are present at any one moment if only as hidden supports of surface content or foreshadowing of future development.

As much as I enjoy reading tension and ambiguity into places where others want coherence and certainty, I am most persuaded by Saiedi's approach to Baha'u'llah's writings. While his engagement with the non-Baha'i context of the Writings is far weaker than any of the Talisman scholars, he makes up for it with his in-depth analysis of the internal Shaykhi, Babi, and Baha'i contexts of Baha'u'llah's writings. After all, when it comes down to it, Baha'u'llah is a Baha'i, and patchwork references to gnosticism, reformism, or "Jeffersonian democracy" are of rather limited use at charting the depths of such a complex body of writings.

It is within this debate about the evolution of Baha'u'llah's writings that I would like to frame my discussion of the Kitab-i-Iqan. Saiedi sees the historical and evolutionary nature of religion as the book's central message and the bridge that unites the spiritual writings of the Baghdad period with the world order writings of the Akka period. In this we are more or less agreed. But one thing that I think is lacking in his analysis is proper attention to the one who is born along and advances this historical process: the human being. As I've said it is my contention that the book from beginning to end is one long ode to the nobility of the human person. O Son of Spirit! Noble have I created thee, yet thou hast abased thyself. Rise then unto that for which thou wast created. What I'm going to show is that Baha'u'llah's understanding of human nature is pivotal to everything else in His writings. Namely, that it is we human actors who must will divine justice into being. God has laid down the guidance and will provide assistance both seen and unseen. But other than that, He has thought highly enough of our freedom that He has left it up to us to make it happen. In this destiny there is something divine. But it is this divinity that makes us our most human.

Your Cat

Friday, February 15, 2008

Human Power - Divine Power

Chart out this constellation of verses appearing in the heaven of Baha'u'llah's Revelation. Note the interplay in these three passages between Baha'u'llah's understanding of Man, the manifestation of the names and attributes of God, and modern science and technology (referred to as "arts" and "crafts"). As for now I'll just leave the passages to speak for themselves, a rare favor from me.

In this connection, He Who is the eternal King—may the souls of all that dwell within the mystic Tabernacle be
a sacrifice unto Him—hath spoken: “He hath known God who hath known himself.” I swear by God, O esteemed and honoured friend! Shouldst thou ponder these words in thine heart, thou wilt of a certainty find the doors of divine wisdom and infinite knowledge flung open before thy face.
From that which hath been said it becometh evident that all things, in their inmost reality, testify to the revelation of the names and attributes of God within them. Each according to its capacity, indicateth, and is expressive of, the knowledge of God.......Also in the tradition of Kumayl it is written: “Behold, a light hath shone forth out of the Morn of eternity, and lo! its waves have penetrated the inmost reality of all men.” Man, the noblest and most perfect of all created things, excelleth them all in the intensity of this revelation, and is a fuller expression of its glory.

Kitab-i-Iqan 107-109

Through the mere revelation of the word “Fashioner,” issuing forth from His lips and proclaiming His attribute to mankind, such power is released as can generate, through successive ages, all the manifold arts which the hands of man can produce. This, verily, is a certain truth. No sooner is this resplendent word uttered, than its animating energies, stirring within all created things, give birth to the means and instruments whereby such arts can be produced and perfected. All the wondrous achievements ye now witness are the direct consequences of the Revelation of this Name. In the days to come, ye will, verily, behold things of which ye have never heard before. Thus hath it been decreed in the Tablets of God, and none can comprehend it except them whose sight is sharp. In like manner, the moment the word expressing My attribute “The Omniscient” issueth forth from My mouth, every created thing will, according to its capacity and limitations, be invested with the power to unfold the knowledge of the most marvelous sciences, and will be empowered to manifest them in the course of time at the bidding of Him Who is the Almighty, the All-Knowing. Know thou of a certainty that the Revelation of every other Name is accompanied by a similar manifestation of Divine power.

Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah LXXIV

The first Taráz and the first effulgence which hath dawned from the horizon of the Mother Book is that man should know his own self and recognize that which leadeth unto loftiness or lowliness, glory or abasement, wealth or poverty. Having attained the stage of fulfilment and reached his maturity, man standeth in need of wealth, and such wealth as he acquireth through crafts or professions is commendable and praiseworthy in the estimation of men of wisdom, and especially in the eyes of servants who dedicate themselves to the education of the world and to the edification of its peoples.......

We cherish the hope that through the loving-kindness of the All-Wise, the All-Knowing, obscuring dust may be dispelled and the power of perception enhanced, that the people may discover the purpose for which they have been called into being. In this Day whatsoever serveth to reduce blindness and to increase vision is worthy of consideration. This vision acteth as the agent and guide for true knowledge.

Tablets of Baha'u'llah "Tarazat" pp. 34-35