“The Fire Tablet” Family Session 5

One historian writes: “Bahá’u’lláh has revealed this Tablet in a very special way. It seems as if it is His human Person, as distinct from the Manifestation of God, that recounts His afflictions and dwells on the iniquities perpetrated by His enemies. Then comes the voice of God and Bahá’u’lláh’s response to it.”  Under great tribulations, sorrow and pain Bahá’u’lláh unburdens His sorrows to God, heeds His response and bursts through despair to the station of sacrifice.

The intention of this session is to enkindle within the hearts of those studying this Tablet a fire that will burn away the veils which separate our souls from His Presence and, trusting in God, to arise with expanding courage to bring the healing message of this Revelation, oneness and justice, to all humanity.

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THE FIRE TABLET
 
In the Name of God, the Most Ancient, the Most Great.
 
Indeed the hearts of the sincere are consumed in the fire of separation: Where is the gleaming of the light of Thy Countenance, O Beloved of the worlds?

Those who are near unto Thee have been abandoned in the darkness of desolation: Where is the shining of the morn of Thy reunion, O Desire of the worlds?


The bodies of Thy chosen ones lie quivering on distant sands: Where is the ocean of Thy presence, O Enchanter of the worlds?


Longing hands are uplifted to the heaven of Thy grace and generosity: Where are the rains of Thy bestowal, O Answerer of the worlds?


The infidels have arisen in tyranny on every hand: Where is the compelling power of Thine ordaining pen, O Conqueror of the worlds?


The barking of dogs is loud on every side: Where is the lion of the forest of Thy might, O Chastiser of the worlds?


Coldness hath gripped all mankind: Where is the warmth of Thy love, O Fire of the worlds?


Calamity hath reached its height: Where are the signs of Thy succor, O Salvation of the worlds?


Darkness hath enveloped most of the peoples: Where is the brightness of Thy splendor, O Radiance of the worlds?


The necks of men are stretched out in malice: Where are the swords of Thy vengeance, O Destroyer of the worlds?


Abasement hath reached its lowest depth: Where are the emblems of Thy glory, O Glory of the worlds?


Sorrows have afflicted the Revealer of Thy Name, the All-Merciful: Where is the joy of the Dayspring of Thy Revelation, O Delight of the worlds?


Anguish hath befallen all the peoples of the earth: Where are the ensigns of Thy gladness, O Joy of the worlds?


Thou seest the Dawning Place of Thy signs veiled by evil suggestions: Where are the fingers of Thy might, O Power of the worlds?


Sore thirst hath overcome all men: Where is the river of Thy bounty, O Mercy of the worlds?


Greed hath made captive all mankind: Where are the embodiments of detachment, O Lord of the worlds?


Thou seest this Wronged One lonely in exile: Where are the hosts of the heaven of Thy Command, O Sovereign of the worlds?


I have been forsaken in a foreign land: Where are the emblems of Thy faithfulness, O Trust of the worlds?


The agonies of death have laid hold on all men: Where is the surging of Thine ocean of eternal life, O Life of the worlds?


The whisperings of Satan have been breathed to every creature: Where is the meteor of Thy fire, O Light of the worlds?


The drunkenness of passion hath perverted most of mankind: Where are the daysprings of purity, O Desire of the worlds?


Thou seest this Wronged One veiled in tyranny among the Syrians: Where is the radiance of Thy dawning light, O Light of the worlds?


Thou seest Me forbidden to speak forth: Then from where will spring Thy melodies, O Nightingale of the worlds?


Most of the people are enwrapped in fancy and idle imaginings: Where are the exponents of Thy certitude, O Assurance of the worlds?


Bahá is drowning in a sea of tribulation: Where is the Ark of Thy salvation, O Savior of the worlds?


Thou seest the Dayspring of Thine utterance in the darkness of creation: Where is the sun of the heaven of Thy grace, O Light-Giver of the worlds?


The lamps of truth and purity, of loyalty and honor, have been put out: Where are the signs of Thine avenging wrath, O Mover of the worlds?


Canst Thou see any who have championed Thy Self, or who ponder on what hath
befallen Him in the pathway of Thy love? Now doth My pen halt, O Beloved of the worlds.


The branches of the Divine Lote-Tree lie broken by the onrushing gales of destiny: Where are the banners of Thy succor, O Champion of the worlds?


This Face is hidden in the dust of slander: Where are the breezes of Thy compassion, O Mercy of the worlds?


The robe of sanctity is sullied by the people of deceit: Where is the vesture of Thy holiness, O Adorner of the worlds?


The sea of grace is stilled for what the hands of men have wrought: Where are the waves of Thy bounty, O Desire of the worlds?


The door leading to the Divine Presence is locked through the tyranny of Thy foes: Where is the key of Thy bestowal, O Unlocker of the worlds?


The leaves are yellowed by the poisoning winds of sedition: Where is the downpour of the clouds of Thy bounty, O Giver of the worlds?


The universe is darkened with the dust of sin: Where are the breezes of Thy forgiveness, O Forgiver of the worlds?


This Youth is lonely in a desolate land: Where is the rain of Thy heavenly grace, O Bestower of the worlds?


O Supreme Pen, We have heard Thy most sweet call in the eternal realm: Give Thou ear unto what the Tongue of Grandeur uttereth, O Wronged One of the worlds!

Were it not for the cold, how would the heat of Thy words prevail, O Expounder of the worlds?

Were it not for calamity, how would the sun of Thy patience shine, O Light of the worlds?


Lament not because of the wicked. Thou wert created to bear and endure, O Patience of the worlds.


How sweet was Thy dawning on the horizon of the Covenant among the stirrers of sedition, and Thy yearning after God, O Love of the worlds.


By Thee the banner of independence was planted on the highest peaks, and the sea of bounty surged, O Rapture of the worlds.


By Thine aloneness the Sun of Oneness shone, and by Thy banishment the land of Unity was adorned.  Be patient, O Thou Exile of the worlds.


We have made abasement the garment of glory, and affliction the adornment of Thy temple, O Pride of the worlds.


Thou seest the hearts are filled with hate, and to overlook is Thine, O Thou Concealer of the sins of the worlds.


When the swords flash, go forward!  When the shafts fly, press onward!  O Thou Sacrifice of the worlds.


Dost Thou wail, or shall I wail?  Rather shall I weep at the fewness of Thy champions, O Thou Who hast caused the wailing of the worlds.


Verily, I have heard Thy call, O All-Glorious Beloved; and now is the face of Bahá flaming with the heat of tribulation and with the fire of Thy shining word, and He hath risen up in faithfulness at the place of sacrifice, looking toward Thy pleasure, O Ordainer of the worlds.


O ‘Alí-Akbar, thank thy Lord for this Tablet whence thou canst breathe the fragrance of My meekness, and know what hath beset Us in the path of God, the Adored of all the worlds.


Should all the servants read and ponder this, there shall be kindled in their veins a fire that shall set aflame the worlds.

Bahá’u’lláh

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Family Session IV

In the case studies reflected on thus far, we read about families, institutions and community members who have been working for some time to build trust and an environment of learning where individuals can exercise freedom of self-expression in a responsible manner, while also contributing to collective learning. Each case study dealt in a direct way with the issue of prejudice and racism in a local setting.  All efforts carried out with the principle of oneness in mind, and the steadfast conviction that the rational soul has no gender, race, ethnicity or class — a fact that renders intolerable all forms of prejudice — directly advance the eradication of racism in America. When we act within the framework for action of our current stage of the Divine Plan, our every effort contributes to one common and noble goal: to bring souls under the banner of oneness and justice.

In our final session we will review the 2 March 2013 letter, which the Universal House of Justice, in its recent letter dated 1 December 2019, has encouraged us all to study.  The following selected paragraphs describe how, in the most unassuming settings, the humble beginnings of a pattern of activity (study circles, devotional gatherings, children’s classes and junior youth groups), which results in growth in the number of friends and families we invite to collaborate and walk (with us?) on the path of service, begins to affect a deep transformation at the very heart of society.

Please study, consult and reflect on the following excerpts from the 2 March 2013 letter from the Universal House of Justice:

“As you know from your study of the Bahá’í writings, the principle that is to infuse all facets of organized life on the planet is the oneness of humankind, the hallmark of the age of maturity. That humanity constitutes a single people is a truth that, once viewed with scepticism, claims widespread acceptance today. The rejection of deeply ingrained prejudices and a growing sense of world citizenship are among the signs of this heightened awareness. Yet, however promising the rise in collective consciousness may be, it should be seen as only the first step of a process that will take decades—nay, centuries—to unfold. For the principle of the oneness of humankind, as proclaimed by Bahá’u’lláh, asks not merely for cooperation among people and nations. It calls for a complete reconceptualization of the relationships that sustain society. The deepening environmental crisis, driven by a system that condones the pillage of natural resources to satisfy an insatiable thirst for more, suggests how entirely inadequate is the present conception of humanity’s relationship with nature; the deterioration of the home environment, with the accompanying rise in the systematic exploitation of women and children worldwide, makes clear how pervasive are the misbegotten notions that define relations within the family unit; the persistence of despotism, on the one hand, and the increasing disregard for authority, on the other, reveal how unsatisfactory to a maturing humanity is the current relationship between the individual and the institutions of society; the concentration of material wealth in the hands of a minority of the world’s population gives an indication of how fundamentally ill-conceived
are relationships among the many sectors of what is now an emerging global community. The principle of the oneness of humankind implies, then, an organic change in the very structure of society.”

 
1. How do the case studies in this program contribute to reconceptualizing the conversations around race and prejudice in homes and neighborhoods? 

“What should be stated plainly here is that Bahá’ís do not believe the transformation thus envisioned will come about exclusively through their own efforts. Nor are they trying to create a movement that would seek to impose on society their vision of the future. Every nation and every group—indeed, every individual—will, to a greater or lesser degree, contribute to the emergence of the world civilization towards which humanity is irresistibly moving. Unity will progressively be achieved, as foreshadowed by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, in different realms of social existence, for instance, “unity in the political realm”, “unity of thought in world undertakings”, “unity of races” and the “unity of nations”. As these come to be realized, the structures of a politically united world, which respects the full diversity of culture and provides channels for the expression of dignity and honour, will gradually take shape.”

2. Why is it so important for each of us to work within a nucleus of friends and families to keep our circle of friends open and ever growing?

“The question that occupies the worldwide Bahá’í community, then, is how it can best contribute to the civilization-building process as its resources increase. It sees two dimensions to its contribution. The first is related to its own growth and development, and the second to its involvement in society at large.

Regarding the first, Bahá’ís across the globe, in the most unassuming settings, are striving to establish a pattern of activity and the corresponding administrative structures that embody the principle of the oneness of humankind and the convictions underpinning it, only a few of which are mentioned here as a means of illustration: that the rational soul has no gender, race, ethnicity or class, a fact that renders intolerable all forms of prejudice, not the least of which are those that prevent women from fulfilling their potential and engaging in various fields of endeavour shoulder to shoulder with men; that the root cause of prejudice is ignorance, which can be erased through educational processes that make knowledge accessible to the entire human race, ensuring it does not become the property of a privileged few; that science and religion are two complementary systems of knowledge and practice by which human beings come to understand the world around them and through which civilization advances; that religion without science soon degenerates into superstition and fanaticism, while science without religion becomes the tool of crude materialism; that true prosperity, the fruit of a dynamic coherence between the material and spiritual requirements of life, will recede further and further out of reach as long as consumerism continues to act as opium to the human soul; that justice, as a faculty of the soul, enables the individual to distinguish truth from falsehood and guides the investigation of reality, so essential if superstitious beliefs and outworn traditions that impede unity are to be eliminated; that, when appropriately brought to bear on social issues, justice is the single most important instrument for the establishment of unity; that work performed in the spirit of service to one’s fellow human beings is a form of prayer, a means of worshipping God. Translating ideals such as these into reality, effecting a transformation at the level of the individual and laying the foundations of suitable social structures, is no small task, to be sure. Yet the Bahá’í community is dedicated to the long-term process of learning that this task entails, an enterprise in which increasing numbers from all walks of life, from every human group, are invited to take part.”

3. Discuss: “…the root cause of prejudice is ignorance, which can be erased through educational processes that make knowledge accessible to the entire human race, ensuring it does not become the property of a privileged few…”

4. “What materials are you currently studying in the core activities, with families and all age groups — in a neighborhood or community — with the aim of eliminating the root cause of prejudice?