MYSTIC WAYFARERS

 

Do mystics exist within the Baha'i Faith?

  In the book of two letters written by Baha'u'llah, Seven Valleys and the Four Valleys, He speaks of persons as mystic wayfarers, or "Those who progress in mystic wayfaring..." 1 and tells of the experiences along the "mystic way". 2

Believers, who are deep in the study of His Writings, are re-discovering these spiritual experiences. However, the mystic wayfarer of today is very much different from those previously defined as "mystics".

Persons who enter the Valley of Search 3 are they who have felt the yearning in their soul and have begun to seek for the knowledge and the truth of their own spirituality. Likewise, the Baha'i (follower of the Light), or one who has declared a belief in Baha'u'llah, who is fathoming the ancient mysteries in their personal meditations, has become very aware of the deep meanings written in God's Word. To many believers, these meditative journeys into the knowledge of ones own being, and the "signs of God," have strengthened their personal commitments to their new found Faith and in their personal lives. The human virtues are no-longer abstract nouns, but living experiences on the spiritual planes of existence, discovered to then be manifest in their daily actions.

What is it that makes these believers so different than the mystics of the past?

In the past......

"Mysticism, as we have said before, maintains that through meditation and contemplation man may enter the presence of the infinite God, and may be absorbed in the infinite unity of the Godhead. In a broad sense, anyone who is aware of the indwelling Spirit of God is a mystic, but we must use the term in a more restricted sense.

The modern mystic has completely discarded asceticism, but retains the doctrine that a particle of the Divine Essence exists in man, and he believes that man may enter the presence of God. He also believes that divine revelation can come to humanity through the mystic as well as through the Prophet; that is, the Divine Will may be revealed to man as well as to the Prophet. For most of these modern mystics, man differs from the Prophet only in degree and not in kind." 4 Such an attitude is oft' taken even to the extreme belief that man is no-longer in need of Prophets and that persons having experienced enlightenments are not subject to the Laws previously given in religious text.

With this definition in mind, we shall compare the "mystic wayfarer" of the Baha'i dispensation.

In matters of asceticism, or the display of abject poverty, Baha'u'llah has written, "Should a man wish to adorn himself with the ornaments of the earth, to wear its apparels, or partake of the benefits it can bestow, no harm can befall him, if he alloweth nothing whatever to intervene between him and God, for God hath ordained every good thing, whether created in the heavens or in the earth, for such of His servants as truly believe in Him." 5

Of the euphoria, the sublimity attributed by many as to be in the presence of God, He again says, " The knowledge of Him, Who is the Origin of all things, and attainment unto Him, are impossible save through knowledge of, and attainment unto, these luminous Beings who proceed from the Sun of Truth. By attaining, therefore, to the presence of these Holy Luminaries, the 'Presence of God' Himself is attained....Attainment unto such presence is possible only in the Day of Resurrection, which is the Day of the rise of God Himself through His all-embracing Revelation." 6

Thus, such is the experience as is the Sublime Awareness and the Union (unicity) one may discover in the experience of being in the presence of Him, the Prophet, in each progressive dispensation. How much greater, then, is the irrational mental deception with which one may fall victim, in believing oneself to be equal or greater than the Prophet of God. Such can be among the tests encountered that the faultering mind could attribute as ones own claim to the messianic, or station of the Exalted One.

And of the Law, love is inseparable from obedience, as man, in recognizing the Prophet of God, adheres to an obligation two-fold, "The first is steadfastness in His love, such steadfastness that neither the clamour of the enemy nor the claims of the idle pretender can deter him from cleaving unto Him Who is the Eternal Truth, a steadfastness that taketh no account of them whatever. The second is the strict observance of the laws He hath prescribed - laws which He hath always ordained, and will continue to ordain, unto men, and through which the truth may be distinguished and separated from falsehood." 7

In Conclusion....

We often hear, among the many, there are no mystics in the Baha'i Faith. By the previous understandings among men, we could agree. In light of a new dispensation, the unifying apex of all previous religious thought, the pathways yet remain open unto mankind. To the intellectual, such may seem as epiphanies. To the mystic wayfarer, spiritual experiences may be more inclined towards theopathies within the boundaries proclaimed by He Who is the Word in this day.

Thus, is ones cup half full, half empty, or to over-flowing?

- Zoharo DeTafalla - 169 B.E.

 

1. Seven Valleys and the Four Valleys by Baha'u'llah, 1991 ed., page 49
2. ibid. page 48
3. ibid. page 5
4. Mysticism, Science, and Revelation by Glenn A. Shook, 1967 ed., pp. 60-61
5. Gleanings, Baha'u'llah, page 276
6. The Book of Certitude by Baha'u'llah, page 142
7. Gleanings, Baha'u'llah, p. 289

Banner references:
A. "mystic wayfarer" (Baha'u'llah, The Seven Valleys, p. 39 - 40)
In all these journeys the traveler must stray not the breadth of a hair from the "Law," for this is indeed the secret of the "Path" and the fruit of the Tree of "Truth"; and in all these stages he must cling to the robe of obedience to the commandments, and hold fast to the cord of shunning all forbidden things, that he may be nourished from the cup of the Law and informed of the mysteries of Truth. [1]

[1] This refers to the three stages of Sufi life:
1. Shari'at, or Religious Laws;
2. Tariqat, or the Path on which the mystic wayfarer journeys in search of the True One; this stage also includes anchoretism.
3. Haqiqat, or the Truth which, to the Sufi, is the goal of the journey through all three stages. Here Bahá'u'lláh teaches that, contrary to the belief of certain Sufis who in their search for the Truth consider themselves above all law, obedience to the Laws of Religion is essential.

B. "journey of the soul" (Abdu'l-Baha, Foundations of World Unity, p. 78)
Briefly; the journey of the soul is necessary. The pathway of life is the road which leads to divine knowledge and attainment. Without training and guidance the soul could never progress beyond the conditions of its lower nature which is ignorant and defective.

C. "summit of realities" (Baha'u'llah, The Seven Valleys, p. 1 - 2)
Praise be to God Who hath made being to come forth from nothingness; graven upon the tablet of man the secrets of preexistence; taught him from the mysteries of divine utterance that which he knew not; made him a Luminous Book unto those who believed and surrendered themselves; caused him to witness the creation of all things (Kullu Shay') in this black and ruinous age, and to speak forth from the apex of eternity with a wondrous voice in the Excellent Temple [1]: to the end that every man may testify, in himself, by himself, in the station of the Manifestation of his Lord, that verily there is no God save Him, and that every man may thereby win his way to the summit of realities, until none shall contemplate anything whatsoever but that he shall see God therein.

[1] The Manifestation of God.

D. "ocean of nearness and union" (Baha'u'llah, The Seven Valleys, p. 4)
And further: The stages that mark the wayfarer's journey from the abode of dust to the heavenly homeland are said to be seven. Some have called these Seven Valleys, and others, Seven Cities. And they say that until the wayfarer taketh leave of self, and traverseth these stages, he shall never reach to the ocean of nearness and union, nor drink of the peerless wine. 

 

 

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