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..."
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
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."
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."
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."
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."
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