22 Nov
Posted in: ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, France, On This Day, Paris Talks, Spiritual Qualities
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Paris Talks: Pain and Sorrow

“Take thou the step of the spirit,” Bahá’u’lláh wrote in 1861, “so that, swift as the twinkling of an eye, thou mayest flash through the wilds of remoteness and bereavement …” (The Book of Certitude, p.43).

Photo by Ryan Lash

Fifty years later, on 22 November 1911, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá explained to a gathering in Paris how pain and sorrow are of this world while the spiritual world only bestows joy and freedom:

…the trials which beset our every step, all our sorrow, pain, shame and grief, are born in the world of matter; whereas the spiritual Kingdom never causes sadness.  A man living with his thoughts in this Kingdom knows perpetual joy.  The ills all flesh is heir to do not pass him by, but they only touch the surface of his life, the depths are calm and serene.

By expressing our true inner nature through spirituality – “the greatest of God’s gifts” – we attain “joy, comfort, peace and consolation.”  How are we to do this?  The Master speaks about asking, calling upon, turning towards, God, and seeing by focusing on the true, i.e. spiritual reality – a reality that reaches beyond our temporary stay on this earth into eternity.

A story that brings this home to me is that of a friend who felt anger and sadness at witnessing a dear one fighting cancer. One day, she was walking and conversing with God in her mind, asking Him “Why? Why?”, while searching around her for consolation. She then saw a tree with a branch entangled and caught in wire.  Something struck her as being odd.  She looked again.  The trapped branch was the only one blossoming on an otherwise bare tree.  In that moment, she took “the step of the spirit.”


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