O Salman! All that the sages and mystics have said or written have never exceeded, nor can they ever hope to exceed, the limitations to which man's finite mind hath been strictly subjected. To whatever heights the mind of the most exalted of men may soar, however great the depths which the detached and understanding heart can penetrate, such mind and heart can never transcend that which is the creature of their own conceptions and the product of their own thoughts. The meditations of the profoundest thinker, the devotions of the holiest of saints, the highest expressions of praise from either/ 318/ human pen or tongue, are but a reflection of that which hath been created within themselves, through the revelation of the Lord, their God. Whoever pondereth this truth in his heart will readily admit that there are certain limits which no human being can possibly transgress. Every attempt which, from the beginning that hath no beginning, hath been made to visualize and know God is limited by the exigencies of His own creation -- a creation which He, through the operation of His own Will and for the purposes of none other but His own Self, hath called into being. Immeasurably exalted is He above the strivings of human mind to grasp His Essence, or of human tongue to describe His mystery. No tie of direct intercourse can ever bind Him to the things He hath created, nor can the most abstruse and most remote allusions of His creatures do justice to His being. Through His world-pervading Will He hath brought into being all created things. He is and hath ever been veiled in the ancient eternity of His own exalted and indivisible Essence, and will everlastingly continue to remain concealed in His inaccessible majesty and glory. All that is in heaven and all that is in the earth have come to exist at His bidding, and by His Will all have stepped out of utter nothingness into the realm of being. How can, therefore, the creature which the Word of God hath fashioned comprehend the nature of Him Who is the Ancient of Days?
(Baha'u'llah, Tablet to Salman, translated by Shoghi Effendi and included in Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, CXLVIII, pp. 317-318)
What is the message of this text? The limitations of the human mind? The transcendence and inaccessibility of God? I submit that the answer is "both". In another Tablet Baha'u'llah writes:
Consider the rational faculty with which God hath endowed the essence of man...
Wert thou to ponder in thine heart, from now until the end that hath no end, and with all the concentrated intelligence and understanding which the greatest minds have attained in the past or will attain in the future, this divinely ordained and subtle Reality [the rational faculty], this sign of the revelation of the All-Abiding, All-Glorious God, thou wilt fail to comprehend its mystery or to appraise its virtue. Having recognized thy powerlessness to attain to an adequate understanding of that Reality which abideth within thee, thou wilt readily admit the futility of such efforts as may be attempted by thee, or by any of the created things, to fathom the mystery of the Living God, the Day Star of unfading glory, the Ancient of everlasting days. This confession of helplessness which mature contemplation must eventually impel every mind to make is in itself the acme/166/of human understanding, and marketh the culmination of man's development.
(Baha'u'llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, LXXXIII, pp. 163, 165-166)
We are assured here that we are powerless to attain to an adequate understanding of the rational faculty which resides within us, that very rational faculty that is described in the earlier Tablet as "man's finite mind" and characterized further as "the meditations of the profoundest thinker, the devotions of the holiest of saints". It is that very faculty which is described as having limits to which it "hath been strictly subjected." It is further described in that Tablet: "To whatever heights the mind of the most exalted of men may soar, however great the depths which the detached and understanding heart can penetrate, such mind and heart can never transcend that which is the creature of their own conceptions and the product of their own thoughts." Such is our incapacity to understand the rational faculty which is our true nature, that we are assured that "Wert thou to ponder in thine heart, from now until the end that hath no end, and with all the concentrated intelligence and understanding which the greatest minds have attained in the past or will attain in the future...thou wilt fail to comprehend its mystery or to appraise its virtue." If we cannot know our true selves, how much moreso are we unable "to fathom the mystery of the Living God, the Day Star of unfading glory, the Ancient of everlasting days." As per the previous Tablet, "Immeasurably exalted is He above the strivings of human mind to grasp His Essence, or of human tongue to describe His mystery."
In another Tablet to Salman, Baha'u'llah describes how it is that we human beings can know God:
O Salman! The door of the knowledge of the Ancient Being hath ever been, and will continue for ever to be, closed in the face of men. No man's understanding shall ever gain access unto His holy court. As a token of His mercy, however, and as a/50/proof of His loving-kindness, He hath manifested unto men the Day Stars of His divine guidance, the Symbols of His divine unity, and hath ordained the knowledge of these sanctified Beings to be identical with the knowledge of His own Self. Whoso recognizeth them hath recognized God. Whoso hearkeneth to their call, hath hearkened to the Voice of God, and whoso testifieth to the truth of their Revelation, hath testified to the truth of God Himself. Whoso turneth away from them, hath turned away from God, and whoso disbelieveth in them, hath disbelieved in God. Every one of them is the Way of God that connecteth this world with the realms above, and the Standard of His Truth unto every one in the kingdoms of earth and heaven. They are the Manifestations of God amidst men, the evidences of His Truth, and the signs of His glory.
(Baha'u'llah, Tablet to Salman, translated by Shoghi Effendi and included in Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, XXI, pp. 49-50)
In one of His earliest Books, Baha'u'llah writes:
Were any of the all-embracing Manifestations of God to declare: "I am God!" He verily speaketh the truth, and no doubt attacheth thereto. For it hath been repeatedly demonstrated that through their Revelation, their attributes and names, the Revelation of God, His name and His attributes, are made manifest in the world. Thus, He hath revealed: "Those shafts were God's, not /179/Thine!"[Qur'an 8:17] And also He saith: "In truth, they who plighted fealty unto thee, really plighted that fealty unto God."[Qur'án 48:10]
(Baha'u'llah, The Kitab-i-Iqan, pp. 178-179)
In His last Book, Baha'u'llah writes:
Divinity, whenever I mention it, indicateth My complete and absolute self-effacement. This is the station in which I have no control over mine own weal or woe nor over my life nor over my resurrection.
(Baha'u'llah, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 41)
Knowledge of the Manifestation is thus knowledge of God because the Manifestation of God is endowed with "complete and absolute self-effacement". Were it otherwise, we would be worshipping multiple deities.
In another Tablet, Baha'u'llah refers to knowledge of self as being the same as knowledge of Himself:
O My servants! My holy, My divinely ordained Revelation may be likened unto an ocean in whose depths are concealed innumerable pearls of great price, of surpassing luster. It is the duty of every seeker to bestir himself and strive to attain the shores of this ocean, so that he may, in proportion to the eagerness of his search and the efforts he hath exerted, partake of such benefits as have been pre-ordained in God's irrevocable and hidden Tablets. If no one be willing to direct his steps towards its shores, if every one should fail to arise and find Him, can such a failure be said to have robbed this ocean of its power or to have lessened, to any degree, its treasures? How vain, how contemptible, are the imaginations which your hearts have devised, and are still devising! O My servants! The one true God is My witness! This most great, this fathomless and surging Ocean is near, astonishingly near, unto you. Behold it is closer to you than your life-vein! Swift as the twinkling of an eye ye can, if ye but wish it, reach and partake of this imperishable favor, this God-given grace, this incorruptible gift, this most potent and unspeakably glorious bounty.
O My servants! Could ye apprehend with what wonders of My munificence and bounty I have willed to entrust your souls, ye would, of a truth, rid yourselves of attachment to all created things, and would gain a true knowledge of your own selves -- a knowledge/327/which is the same as the comprehension of Mine own Being. Ye would find yourselves independent of all else but Me, and would perceive, with your inner and outer eye, and as manifest as the revelation of My effulgent Name, the seas of My loving-kindness and bounty moving within you. Suffer not your idle fancies, your evil passions, your insincerity and blindness of heart to dim the luster, or stain the sanctity, of so lofty a station. Ye are even as the bird which soareth, with the full force of its mighty wings and with complete and joyous confidence, through the immensity of the heavens, until, impelled to satisfy its hunger, it turneth longingly to the water and clay of the earth below it, and, having been entrapped in the mesh of its desire, findeth itself impotent to resume its flight to the realms whence it came. Powerless to shake off the burden weighing on its sullied wings, that bird, hitherto an inmate of the heavens, is now forced to seek a dwelling-place upon the dust. Wherefore, O My servants, defile not your wings with the clay of waywardness and vain desires, and suffer them not to be stained with the dust of envy and hate, that ye may not be hindered from soaring in the heavens of My divine knowledge.
(Baha'u'llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, CLIII, pp. 326-327)
In this fourth Tablet we are assured that we may attain to "a true knowledge of your own selves" and that this "true knowledge...is the same as the comprehension of Mine own Being ." In the second Tablet to Salman we are assured that "The door of the knowledge of the Ancient Being hath ever been, and will continue for ever to be, closed in the face of men. No man's understanding shall ever gain access unto His holy court." This is likewise the import of the first two Tablets cited, in which our human incapacity to know God is stated in emphatic and uncompromising terms. The second Tablet to Salman indicates that God "hath manifested unto men the Day Stars of His divine guidance, the Symbols of His divine unity, and hath ordained the knowledge of these sanctified Beings to be identical with the knowledge of His own Self. Whoso recognizeth them hath recognized God. Whoso hearkeneth to their call, hath hearkened to the Voice of God, and whoso testifieth to the truth of their Revelation, hath testified to the truth of God Himself." Notwithstanding our incapacity as human beings to know God, by knowing the Manifestation of God we know God Himself, for He "hath ordained the knowledge of these sanctified Beings to be identical with the knowledge of His own Self."
What do we make then of the assertion in the fourth Tablet, that "a true knowledge of your own selves...is the same as the comprehension of Mine own Being"? First let us consider how we attain to this "true knowledge of your own selves". In that same Tablet He writes:
O My servants! Were ye to discover the hidden, the shoreless oceans of My incorruptible wealth, ye would, of a certainty, esteem as nothing the world, nay, the entire creation. Let the flame of search burn with such fierceness within your hearts as to enable you to attain your supreme and most exalted goal -- the station/324/at which ye can draw nigh unto, and be united with, your Best-Beloved...
(Baha'u'llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, pp. 323-324)
Retrace your steps, O My servants, and incline your hearts to Him Who is the Source of your creation. Deliver yourselves from your evil and corrupt affections, and hasten to embrace the light of the undying Fire that gloweth on the Sinai of this mysterious and transcendent Revelation.
(Baha'u'llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 324)
With ears that are sanctified from vain-glory and worldly desires hearken unto the counsels which I, in My merciful kindness, have revealed unto you, and with your inner and outer eyes contemplate the evidences of My marvelous Revelation...
(Baha'u'llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 324)
O My servants! Deprive not yourselves of the unfading and resplendent Light that shineth within the Lamp of Divine glory.
(Baha'u'llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 324)
O My servants! My holy, My divinely ordained Revelation may be likened unto an ocean in whose depths are concealed innumerable pearls of great price, of surpassing luster. It is the duty of every seeker to bestir himself and strive to attain the shores of this ocean, so that he may, in proportion to the eagerness of his search and the efforts he hath exerted, partake of such benefits as have been pre-ordained in God's irrevocable and hidden Tablets.
(Baha'u'llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 324)
O My servants! The one true God is My witness! This most great, this fathomless and surging Ocean is near, astonishingly near, unto you. Behold it is closer to you than your life-vein! Swift as the twinkling of an eye ye can, if ye but wish it, reach and partake of this imperishable favor, this God-given grace, this incorruptible gift, this most potent and unspeakably glorious bounty.
(Baha'u'llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 324)
O My servants! Through the might of God and His power, and out of the treasury of His knowledge and wisdom, I have brought forth and revealed unto you the pearls that lay concealed in the depths of His everlasting ocean. I have summoned the Maids of/328/Heaven to emerge from behind the veil of concealment, and have clothed them with these words of Mine -- words of consummate power and wisdom. I have, moreover, with the hand of divine power, unsealed the choice wine of My Revelation, and have wafted its holy, its hidden, and musk-laden fragrance upon all created things. Who else but yourselves is to be blamed if ye choose to remain unendowed with so great an outpouring of God's transcendent and all-encompassing grace, with so bright a revelation of His resplendent mercy?...
(Baha'u'llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, pp. 327-328)
O My servants! There shineth nothing else in Mine heart except the unfading light of the Morn of Divine guidance, and out of My mouth proceedeth naught but the essence of truth, which the Lord your God hath revealed. Follow not, therefore, your earthly desires, and violate not the Covenant of God, nor break your pledge to Him. With firm determination, with the whole affection of your heart, and with the full force of your words, turn ye unto Him, and walk not in the ways of the foolish. The world is but a show, vain and empty, a mere nothing, bearing the semblance of reality. Set not your affections upon it. Break not the bond that uniteth you with your Creator, and be not of those that have erred and strayed from His ways. Verily I say, the world is like the vapor in a desert, which the thirsty dreameth to be water and striveth after it with all his might, until when he cometh unto it, he findeth it to be mere/329/illusion. It may, moreover, be likened unto the lifeless image of the beloved whom the lover hath sought and found, in the end, after long search and to his utmost regret, to be such as cannot "fatten nor appease his hunger."
(Baha'u'llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, pp. 328-329)
In these passages the path to the knowledge of God is set forth clearly, albeit in sumptuous and majestic language--"Break not the bond that uniteth you with your Creator, and be not of those that have erred and strayed from His ways." That bond that unites us with our Creator is apprehension of this Manifestation of God, and attainment to His "divinely ordained Revelation", which is described as "the unfading and resplendent Light that shineth within the Lamp of Divine glory", "This most great, this fathomless and surging Ocean", "the unfading light of the Morn of Divine guidance" and "naught but the essence of truth". It is through this apprehension of the revelation of God in the counsels and words of His Manifestation that we are enabled to know Him and to know ourselves: "Could ye apprehend with what wonders of My munificence and bounty I have willed to entrust your souls, ye would, of a truth, rid yourselves of attachment to all created things, and would gain a true knowledge of your own selves -- a knowledge which is the same as the comprehension of Mine own Being." And this comprehension of the Manifestation, of His own Being is "identical" with the knowledge of God.
As 'Abdu'l-Baha expressed this teaching:
The knowledge of the Reality of the Divinity is impossible and unattainable, but the knowledge of the Manifestations of God is the knowledge of God, for the bounties, splendors and divine attributes are apparent in Them. Therefore, if man attains to the knowledge of the Manifestations of God, he will attain to the knowledge of God; and if he be neglectful of the knowledge of the Holy Manifestations, he will be bereft of the knowledge of God. It is then ascertained and proved that the Holy Manifestations are the center of the bounty, signs and perfections of God. Blessed are those who receive the light of the divine bounties from the enlightened Dawning-points!
('Abdu'l-Baha, Some Answered Questions, p. 222)
What then is mine own self? What self do I have, "a true knowledge" of which could possibly be "the same as the comprehension of Mine own Being", which means both the Being of the Manifestation and the Being of God?
What is this "The Self of God standing within Him with laws"? (Baha'u'llah, The Four Valleys, p. 49) What is the meaning of the Arabic Hidden Word, No. 13, "O Son of Spirit! Turn thy sight unto thyself that thou mayest find Me standing within thee"? 'Abdu'l-Baha explains the Hidden Word in these terms: "Thou hast asked about the statement in the Hidden Words: "O Son of Spirit! Turn thy sight unto thyself that thou mayest find Me standing within thee, Mighty, Powerful and Self-Subsisting." This is the same statement as was made by Christ to His apostles in the Gospel: "The Father is in the Son, and the Son is in you." [Gospel of John 14:20]
It is evident that, when a heart is purified and through divine education and heavenly teachings becometh a manifestor of infinite bounty, it is like a clear mirror. The Sun of Truth will be reflected in it with might, power and omnipotence, to such an extent that whatever is brought before it is ignited and consumed. This is a brief interpretation because of lack of time. Therefore, do thou reflect and meditate upon it so that the doors of inner meanings may be opened before thine eyes.
('Abdu'l-Bahá, from a Tablet to an individual believer – translated from Persian and Arabic; from a Compilation of the BWC Research Department, published at http://bahai-library.com/bsr/bsr09/9H2_comp_hiddenwords.htm)
The self that is described here is like a mirror polished in such wise that it reflects what is set before it, and which is turned in the direction of the Manifestation, Who in Himself reflects the Reality of God. A ray of the Sun of Reality is manifest in the mirror of the heart of the true believer:
But acquired infallibility is not a natural necessity; on the contrary, it is a ray of the bounty of infallibility which shines from the Sun of Reality upon hearts, and grants a share and portion of itself to souls. Although these souls have not essential infallibility, still they are under the protection of God -- that is to say, God preserves them from error. Thus many of the holy beings who were not dawning-points of the Most Great Infallibility, were yet kept and preserved from error under the shadow of the protection and guardianship of God, for they were the mediators of grace between God and men. If God did not protect them from error, their error would cause believing souls to fall into error, and thus the foundation of the Religion of God would be overturned, which would not be fitting nor worthy of God.
('Abdu'l-Baha, Some Answered Questions, p. 171)
The human spirit which distinguishes man from the animal is the rational soul, and these two names -- the human spirit and the rational soul -- designate one thing. This spirit, which in the terminology of the philosophers is the rational soul, embraces all beings, and as far as human ability permits discovers the realities of things and becomes cognizant of their peculiarities and effects, and of the qualities and properties of beings. But the human spirit, unless assisted by the spirit of faith, does not become acquainted with the divine secrets and the heavenly realities. It is like a mirror which, although clear, polished/209/and brilliant, is still in need of light. Until a ray of the sun [the Sun of Reality] reflects upon it, it cannot discover the heavenly secrets.
(Abdu'l-Baha, Some Answered Questions, pp. 208-209)
This divine intellectual power is the special attribute of the Holy Manifestations and the Dawning-places of prophethood; a ray of this light falls upon the mirrors of the hearts of the righteous, and a portion and a share of this power comes to them through the Holy Manifestations.
('Abdu'l-Baha, Some Answered Questions, p. 218)
The splendors of the perfections, bounties and attributes of God shine forth and radiate from the reality of the Perfect Man -- that is to say, the Unique One, the supreme Manifestation of God. Other beings receive only one ray, but the supreme Manifestation is the mirror for this Sun, which appears and becomes manifest in it, with all its perfections, attributes, signs and wonders.
('Abdu'l-Baha, Some Answered Questions, p. 221)
To reiterate, the self must become purified and then turn in the direction of God. If the self is not purified, it does not matter in what direction it turns, it will not attain to this ray of divine Light, it will not know itself, and it cannot know the Manifestation of God, and through Him, God Himself. If the self does not turn in the right direction, it may also fail to attain to this ray. Throughout His Writings, Baha'u'llah enjoins right purification and right orientation. Right purification is described here:
It is incumbent on these servants that they cleanse the heart -- which is the wellspring of divine treasures -- from every marking, and that they turn away from imitation, which is following the traces of their forefathers and sires, and shut the door of friendliness and enmity upon all the people of the earth. (Baha'u'llah, The Seven Valleys, p. 5)
Wert thou to cleanse the mirror of thy heart from the dust of malice, thou wouldst apprehend the meaning of the symbolic terms revealed by the all-embracing Word of God made manifest in every Dispensation, and wouldst discover the mysteries of divine knowledge. Not, however, until thou consumest with the flame of utter detachment those veils of/69/idle learning, that are current amongst men, canst thou behold the resplendent morn of true knowledge. (Baha'u'llah, The Kitab-i-Iqan, pp. 68-69)
The heart must needs therefore be cleansed from the idle sayings of men, and sanctified from every earthly affection, so that it may discover the hidden meaning of divine inspiration, and become the treasury of the mysteries of divine knowledge. Thus hath it been said: "He that treadeth the snow-white Path, and followeth in the footsteps of the Crimson Pillar, shall never attain unto his abode unless his hands are empty of those worldly things cherished by men." This is the prime requisite of whosoever treadeth this path. Ponder thereon, that, with eyes unveiled, thou mayest perceive the truth of these words. (Baha'u'llah, The Kitab-i-Iqan, p. 70)
It is incumbent upon thee, by the permission of God, to cleanse the eye of thine heart from the things of the world, that thou mayest realize the infinitude of divine knowledge, and mayest behold Truth so clearly that thou wilt need no proof to demonstrate His reality, nor any evidence to bear witness unto His testimony. (Baha'u'llah, The Kitab-i-Iqan, p. 90)
By the righteousness of God! Whoso desireth to fathom the mystery of this "Mi'raj," and craveth a drop from this ocean, if the mirror of his heart be already obscured by the dust of these learnings, he must needs cleanse and purify it ere the light of this mystery can be reflected therein. (Baha'u'llah, The Kitab-i-Iqan, p. 186)
But, O my brother, when a true seeker determineth to take the step of search in the path leading to the knowledge of the Ancient of Days, he must, before all else, cleanse and purify his heart, which is the seat of the revelation of the inner mysteries of God, from the obscuring dust of all acquired knowledge, and the allusions of the embodiments of satanic fancy. He must purge his breast, which is the sanctuary of the abiding love of the Beloved, of every defilement, and sanctify his soul from all that pertaineth to water and clay, from all shadowy and ephemeral attachments. He must so cleanse his heart that no remnant of either love or hate may linger therein, lest that love blindly incline him to error, or that hate repel him away from the truth. Even as thou dost witness in this/193/day how most of the people, because of such love and hate, are bereft of the immortal Face, have strayed far from the Embodiments of the divine mysteries, and, shepherdless, are roaming through the wilderness of oblivion and error.
(Baha'u'llah, The Kitab-i-Iqan, pp. 192-193)
Now is the moment in which to cleanse thyself with the waters of detachment that have flowed out from the Supreme Pen, and to ponder, wholly for the sake of God, those things which, time and again, have been sent down or manifested, and then to strive, as much as lieth in thee, to quench, through the power of wisdom and the force of thy utterance, the fire of enmity and hatred which smouldereth in the hearts of the peoples of the world. (Baha'u'llah, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 12)
Right orientation is referred to here:
Every soul that walketh humbly with its God, in this Day, and cleaveth unto Him, shall find itself invested with the honor and glory of all goodly names and stations. (Baha'u'llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 159)
And in another connection these words were revealed: "We enjoin the servants of God and His handmaidens to be pure and to fear God, that they may shake off the slumber of their corrupt desires, and turn toward God, the Maker of the heavens and of the earth. Thus have We commanded the faithful when the Daystar of the world shone forth from the horizon of Iraq. My imprisonment doeth Me no harm, neither the tribulations I suffer, nor the things that have befallen Me at the hands of My oppressors. That which harmeth Me is the conduct of those who, though they bear My name, yet commit that which maketh My heart and My pen to lament. They that spread disorder in the land, and lay hands on the property of others, and enter a house without leave of its owner, We, verily, are clear of them, unless they repent and return unto God, the Ever-Forgiving, the Most Merciful." (Baha'u'llah, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 23)
It is Our hope that thou wilt hear with attentive ears the things We have mentioned unto thee, that perchance thou mayest turn men away from the things they possess to the things that God possesseth. (Baha'u'llah, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 28)
Verily, the breezes of forgiveness have been wafted from the direction of your Lord, the God of Mercy; whoso turneth thereunto, shall be cleansed of his sins, and of all pain and/47/sickness. Happy the man that hath turned towards them, and woe betide him that hath turned aside.
(Baha'u'llah, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, pp. 46-47)
O Czar of Russia! Incline thine ear unto the voice of God, the King, the Holy, and turn thou unto Paradise, the Spot wherein abideth He Who, among the Concourse on high, beareth the most excellent titles, and Who, in the kingdom of creation, is called by the name of God, the Effulgent, the All-Glorious. Beware that nothing deter thee from setting thy face towards thy Lord, the Compassionate, the Most Merciful. (Baha'u'llah, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 56)
Ponder, now, O Shaykh, the influence of the word of God, that haply thou mayest turn from the left hand of idle fancy unto the right hand of certitude. This Wronged One hath never acted hypocritically towards any one, in the Cause of God, and hath loudly proclaimed the Word of God before the face of His creatures. Let him who wisheth turn thereunto,/111/and let him who wisheth turn aside. If these things, however, that are so clear, so manifest and indubitable, be denied, what else can be deemed acceptable and worthy of credence in the estimation of men of insight? (Baha'u'llah, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, pp. 110-111)
Be thou assured in thyself that verily, he who turns away from this Beauty hath also turned away from the Messengers of the past and showeth pride towards God from all eternity to all eternity. (Baha'u'llah, Tablet of Ahmad)
In some texts, right purification and right orientation are presented as a pair of inseparable requirements:
O My Brother! A pure heart is as a mirror; cleanse it with the burnish of love and severance from all save God, that the true sun may shine within it and the eternal morning dawn. Then wilt thou clearly see the meaning of "Neither doth My earth nor My heaven contain Me, but the heart of My faithful servant containeth Me." And thou wilt take up thy life in thine hand, and with infinite longing cast it before the new Beloved One. (Baha'u'llah, The Seven Valleys, pp. 21-22)
No man shall attain the shores of the ocean of true understanding except he be detached from all that is in heaven and on earth. Sanctify your souls, O ye peoples of the world, that haply ye may attain that station which God hath destined for you and enter thus the tabernacle which, according to the dispensations of Providence, hath been raised in the firmament of the Bayan.
THE essence of these words is this: they that tread the path of faith, they that thirst for the wine of certitude, must cleanse themselves of all that is earthly -- their ears from idle talk, their minds from vain imaginings, their hearts from worldly affections, their eyes from that which perisheth. They should put their trust in God, and, holding fast unto Him, follow in His way. Then will they be made worthy of the effulgent glories of the sun of divine knowledge and understanding, and become the recipients of a grace that is infinite and unseen, inasmuch as man can never hope to attain unto the knowledge of the All-Glorious, can never quaff from the stream of divine knowledge/4/and wisdom, can never enter the abode of immortality, nor partake of the cup of divine nearness and favour, unless and until he ceases to regard the words and deeds of mortal men as a standard for the true understanding and recognition of God and His Prophets. (Baha'u'llah, The Kitab-i-Iqan, pp. 3-4)
Would that the hearts of men could be cleansed from these man-made limitations and obscure thoughts imposed upon them! haply they may be illumined by the light of the Sun of true knowledge, and comprehend the mysteries of divine wisdom (Baha'u'llah, The Kitab-i-Iqan, p. 46)
Say: O people! Cleanse your hearts and your eyes, that ye may recognize your Maker in this holy and luminous attire. (Baha'u'llah, The Summons of the Lord of Hosts, p. 32)
To return to our original theme, which was to provide a commentary to GL:CXLVIII, we find that Baha'u'llah's insistence that the human mind is incapable of knowing God, cannot be properly understood, that is, understood in a manner consistent with His own authorial intentions, and consistent with His teachings as a whole unless we read it in the light of His other references to human knowledge of God. We find, upon perusal of those references, that the human being is able to know God, but only under certain conditions and that the human being is actively engaged in attaining to those conditions. We cannot know God except through knowing the Manifestation of God, and we cannot know the Manifestation of God except through purifying our hearts and minds and turning towards Him. Through this right purification and right orientation we attain to true knowledge of our own selves as well as knowledge of the Manifestation and knowledge of God. Inasmuch as the names and attributes of God are knowable in their reflection in our hearts, and in the Manifestations, it is through this knowledge that we may know ourselves as well as Him. We do not attain to the knowledge of our own essence, nor of the essence of the Manifestation or the essence of God. This knowledge of essences is beyond our capacity. But the knowledge of names and attributes is attainable, and this knowledge is of vital importance to each one of us. Our whole purpose for being, not the purpose you or I may have in mind, but the purpose for which we were brought into being by our Creator, this is to know and love Him. Knowing and loving Him is indivisible from knowing and loving our true selves, knowing and loving the Manifestations of God. This is true knowledge, this is true love. As Hillel said: "That which is hateful to you do not do to others. All the rest is commentary. Now go and learn." (Shabbos 31A)