Wednesday, 24 February 2010

The atmosphere of thy knowledge

I'm aware that that's a grand title, and this reflects a conflict that goes on in me over what to write here about my spiritual journey and accounts for why I have, up to now, been conservative in what I have chosen to say. I have wonderful experiences and thoughts about Baha'u'llah, but know that the minute I try to put those things into words, they're liable to sound cheap compared to the experience.

But I've noticed that often Baha'u'llah says that when he writes about the majesty of God, his words are a blasphemy in that they are not and never can be even close to the reality he is trying to describe. However, I've also noticed him ask the Lord to inspire those who believe in him with a vision of the Lord's greatness so that they will feel compelled to gush out in words what they are experiencing, in the hope that the spirit in this effusion will attract others to Baha'u'llah. From all this, I'm starting to get a picture of how it works - well, a small picture that pertains to me and enables me to make sense of something that is a mystery. Even though any attempt I make to praise the Lord will inevitably fall short, nevertheless it is a bounty for me to do this so that others might be attracted by the spirit in what I say. This new understanding has given me fresh impetus to get writing, despite my inability to say anything about the Lord that is worthy.

As I said in my previous blog entry, I have been coping with the uncertainty that goes with packing up everything and moving to the opposite end of the country. This test has forced me to focus my attention on the meditations of the Bab and Baha'u'llah, in an effort to find an inner peace in the middle of my changeable circumstances. What did I find in the writings? First, I immersed myself in the Bab's meditations in the back of the Selections book. Repeatedly, he says that God is in control of everything and that nothing happens without the Lord's permission. I learned to repeat this line to myself: "Whatever God hath willed hath been, and that which He hath not willed shall not be." This gave me comfort. And then I'd repeat the line that comes after that: "There is no power nor strength except in God, the Most Exalted, the Most Mighty." (Selections from the writings of the Bab, p 191). Here is the same idea again, in different words:

"For assuredly whatsoever God hath decreed for Me shall come to pass and naught else save that which God hath ordained for us shall ever touch us." (Selections, p 15)

But of course, it's not that simple. What happened, and still happens, is that I would repeat these verses to myself in the morning during my prayer time, then get up to work on the house during the day and promptly forget what I had been repeating and fall back into my old mode of thinking. Then I'd wind up again about my situation and get into a panic state. Daily, I fought my stress and worries in this way. In the beginning, the effort felt hopeless. I would switch back into my old thinking patterns as soon as I put my prayer books down and got up to start my day. It was all about blind faith in God's promise to me then. I knew I was hopeless; all I had was perseverance. I just kept at it morning and evening, and sometimes not in the evening because I was too tired or wound up to read.

It's been several weeks and I've noticed some improvement. What I can see now, and couldn't before, is the existence of two spiritual worlds: the spiritual world in which I was living in my daily life, and the spiritual world that Baha'u'llah was calling me into. I've often wondered about the phenomenon of human culture, how people brought up in different cultures can be human and yet experience common things completely differently, having different stories with which to interpret what's happening to them. Now I see the differences between my old spiritual world and the one Baha'u'llah calls me to as being like two different cultures. Baha'u'llah says that everything in the physical world is a symbol of a spiritual reality. Now I see that my move from my old spiritual world to Baha'u'llah's spiritual world is a culture change. It means I have to re-examine everything I once held to be true and rethink the stories I tell myself in order to make sense of my world.

It was while I was meditating on this idea of a change in culture that I came across this verse, with the phrase "atmosphere of thy knowledge":

"I implore Thee, O my God and my Master, by Thy word through which they who have believed in Thy unity have soared up into the atmosphere of Thy knowledge..." (Baha'u'llah: Prayers and Meditations, p 188)

And I got to thinking about the concept of atmosphere - we have an atmosphere here on earth, which enables us to breathe, but there is a different atmosphere on the other planets, where we can't breathe. What is Baha'u'llah saying about his spiritual world, when he says it has a special atmosphere? All I know is that I need to be breathing the air from his world and stop breathing the air from mine.

Commentary on Tablet of the Son

 Commentary on Tablet of the Son