Saturday, 15 January 2011

One manifestation: two stations

I've started reading Nader Saiedi's "Gate of the Heart". I was spurred on by Sen's raving about it on his blog and thought, well, it must be good, and therefore better than "Logos and Civilization", which I couldn't finish. I'm glad to say that some issues I had with Logos have been rectified in Gate of the Heart. A key one was that, in Logos, Saiedi would say that the Bab said this and that, but not back it up with quotes from the Bab (and it's not as if you can consult official translations). Gate of the Heart includes quotes. Yay!

The very first one blew me away. It's about the two stations of the manifestation. It isn't news to us that the manifestation has two stations; Baha'u'llah says as much in the Iqan:

"We have already in the foregoing pages assigned two stations unto each of the Luminaries arising from the Daysprings of eternal holiness. One of these stations, the station of essential unity, We have already explained. "No distinction do We make between any of them." The other is the station of distinction, and pertaineth to the world of creation and to the limitations thereof. In this respect, each Manifestation of God hath a distinct individuality, a definitely prescribed mission, a predestined Revelation, and specially designated limitations." Kitab-i-Iqan, para 191

But reading what the Bab has to say about the two stations has made me see that this two-station business is more complicated than I thought. Drawing on the three-world structure of existence (which I have covered in previous entries), I assumed that the two stations Baha'u'llah speaks of lined up with the two worlds of existence - the world of the kingdom and the world of creation - like this:
- world of God
- world of the kingdom - first station of the manifestation
- world of creation - second station of the manifestation.

My assumption wasn't wrong. But the two stations that the Bab refers to are two stations within the world of the kingdom; that is, within the world of the manifestation or, to use the Bab's terminology, within the Will or Point. So the structure looks more like this:
- world of God
- world of the kingdom - first station of the manifestation
- world of the kingdom - second station of the manifestation
- world of creation - second station of the manifestation.

On page 46, Saiedi quotes the Bab:

"Verily the Point possesseth two stations. One is the station that speaketh from God. The other is the station that speaketh from that which is other than God, a station whereby He expresseth His servitude for the former station. By virtue of the former, the latter worshippeth God in the daytime and in the night season, and glorifieth Him at morn and at eventide.

The substance of this gate is that God hath fashioned two stations for the Sun of Truth. One is the station of His unknown and unknowable Essence, the Manifestation of His Divinity. Thus, all His revealed divine verses stream forth on behalf of God....All else beyond this supreme Sign present within Him is His creation....

And within the inmost reality of all things there hath been, and will forever continue to be, a sign from God through which the unity of the Lord is celebrated. This sign, however, is a reflection of His Will present within it, through which naught is seen but God. However, within the Will, that supreme Sign is the Will Itself, the Supreme Mirror of God, which hath never referred, nor will it ever refer, to aught but God....He is the possessor of two signs, that of God and that of creation, and through the latter he worshippeth God and boweth in adoration before Him. [...]"

(The ellipsis in square brackets is mine; the others are in the original.)

In chapter one, Saiedi discusses the two stations of the manifestation with regard to the different voices of the manifestation. For example, on the one hand, Baha'u'llah speaks with the voice of God, as in the Hidden Words, and on the other hand, he speaks in supplication to God, as in the prayers and meditations. Saiedi explains that, in the first station, the manifestation speaks "from God and on behalf of God", and in the second station, speaks "to God". In the first station, the manifestation reveals "divine verses" and in the second station, reveals "prayers and supplications",(p46) which we later find out includes the passages in the writings that explain, and comment on, the divine verses.

But going back to the quote above, I understand the Bab to be saying in the third paragraph that the essence of all things is a reflection of the Will, but the essence of the manifestation is the Will itself. Following the Bab, Saiedi refers to the first station of the manifestation as the "hidden" aspect, which is pure God, and the second station of the manifestation as the "manifest" aspect, which is the self of the Will as a created reality.

This left me confused about the relationship between the second station of the manifestation in the Will and how things come into being in the world of creation. An answer came from a quote from the Bab that I found on Keven Brown's site. The Bab speaks of creation coming into existence in seven stages. The first two - Will and Purpose - equate to the two stations of the Will outlined above. Once this pairing takes place, the lower levels of creation follow as a matter of course. The two levels below Will and Purpose are Determination and Fate. The Bab says:

"The first stage of anything for which the “thingness” of existence is not a condition is the Will. The moment thingness is attached to it, it becometh Purpose, and this moment is accompanied by predestination. The manifestation of these three stages is fate. In this regard,[2] it is incumbent upon all creatures to acknowledge the spontaneity (badá’ ) of God,[3] lauded and exalted be He, for His will cannot be altered after the stage of fate; it is fixed." Quotes re the 7 stages, no 1

This quote helps me to understand better the two stations of the manifestation. 'Thingness' of existence is not a condition of the first station of the Will. The second station is its 'thingness' and, once these two come together, then existence comes into being through the stages of Predestination and Fate. The Bab says: "The names of these three at the beginning of the creative act are Will, Purpose, and predestination, which the people of eloquence express as calling-into-being, origination, invention, creation and being made". Quotes re the 7 stages, no 6

The final three stages of creation are called permission, fixed time and book.

I have by no means finished Saiedi's book. This subject is complex, and every time I sit down to read about it, I learn more. I will therefore write more as I can make sense of it.

No comments: