The Lamp, volume 2 Number 2
A Newsletter Produced by the Wilmette Institute
Volume 2, Number 2, September 1997
Back to index for The Lamps
Sept. 18, 1997
The National Spiritual Assembly received the following message from the
Universal House of Justice directed to the students of the Wilmette
The Universal House of Justice was encouraged to learn of the spirit that
animated you as participants in the courses of the Wilmette Institute, as
reported in your email letter dated 8 August 1997, and it assures you of its
ardent prayers in the Holy Shrines that each of you may reap the bounties to be
derived from accepting the challenges of your Lord.
Department of the Secretariat
Letter from the Student Council to the Universal House of
Dearly Beloved Universal House of Justice
Refreshed by the fragrant spiritual breezes from the shelter of the Mother
Temple of the West, the students of the Wilmette Institute send loving and
In the second year of the Spiritual Foundations for a Global Civilization
program, we have been on a journey to the deepest recesses of our being in the
hope of better understanding ourselves and our place in the family of
Our vision and path are clearly dedicated to Bahá'u'lláh and His
Word. Our hearts and minds burst with the ecstasy and hope inspired by the
friends who gave so freely of their time and knowledge in the Cause of God.
The transformative breezes that have consecrated each of us have had an
ethereal and divine effect. By studying the Sacred Texts and applying them to
our lives, we have become part of a community spirit we never dreamed possible.
Our hearts and minds have been touched by the hand of
Bahá'u'lláh. He has sent to us the wisdom of the temporal world
steeped in the infallible Word of the Holy Writings.
We are deeply grateful to the Universal House of Justice, the National
Spiritual Assembly of the United States, and the Wilmette Institute, its board,
faculty and staff for creating the atmosphere to bring to flower this
Even more than our goal, our mission, is to carry back to our
Bahá'í communities the lessons of our experience. We dedicate
ourselves to the task of delivering the warmth we feel in fomenting the
development of the individual and the family.
Central to our experience has been the budding recognition that the rose of
love planted in our hearts, by the grace of God, has both fragrance and thorns.
We have each begun to cultivate the bounty of knowing both. It is our fervent
wish that the steed of the valley of love carry us as we advance in the process
of entry by troops.
In the words of `Abdu'l-Bahá, "Nothing else will be useful, today.
...The interests of such a Glorious Cause will not advance without individual
attention. While we are carrying this load we cannot carry any other load!"
Through our experience at the Institute, a bridge has been built to unite the
understanding of the mind and the love of the heart. This experience fulfills
the goal of the Institute to raise a new generation of diverse, knowledgeable
and articulate teachers and administrators for the Bahá'í Faith.
The service which we now wish to render is a life sacrificed in devotion to
God. The Dawn is here, and we humbly request your prayers as we accept the
challenge given to us by by Bahá'u'lláh to "Rise then unto that
for which thou wast created."
With deepest love,
The students of the Wilmette Institute, 1997
Letter from the National Spiritual Assembly to the Welcoming
the Spiritual Foundations Program
July 19, 1997
Students of the Wilmette Institute
c/o Board of Directors of the Wilmette Institute
We are delighted to welcome you to the second residential session of the
Wilmette Institute's Spiritual Foundations for a Global Civilization program
and wish we could be with you tonight at the reception to greet each of you
The National Spiritual Assembly eagerly anticipates the benefits your studies
will provide in aiding you to become knowledgeable, articulate teachers and
administrators of the Bahá'í Faith so vital to fulfilling the
primary goal of the Four Year Plan, a significant advance in the process of
entry by troops. Your enthusiasm and determination to excel in acquiring the
"spiritual insights, the knowledge, and the skills needed to carry out the many
tasks of accelerated expansion and consolidation" bring to mind the following
statement from Shoghi Effendi:
From Their supernal realms and Their immortal heights, He the exalted
Báb, and He Who is the Beauty of the All-Glorious, and the wondrous
presence of `Abdu'l-Bahá, all These are gazing down upon Their faithful
loved ones, beholding what they do under all conditions, their behaviour and
conduct, and all their words and ways, waiting to cry `Well done!' when They
see the Teachings carried out, and `Blessed art thou!' to whoso may excel in
doing the bidding of his Lord.
We assure each of you that during the meeting of the National Spiritual
Assembly this weekend you will be remembered in the holiest House of Worship
ever to be reared by the followers of Bahá'u'lláh.
With loving Bahá'í greetings,
Robert C. Henderson
Maturity, Commitment Animate Spiritual Foundations 1997 Residential
The second residential session of the Wilmette Institute's Spiritual
Foundations for a Global Civilization program came to an end on August 8. The
twenty-seven students attending the three-week 1997 session surpassed in
maturity, seriousness, and commitment the participants in the remarkable
inaugural session in 1996. They took an intensive series of classes on the
nature and station of the individual, the development of spiritual values and
moral behavior, and marriage and family life from the perspective of the
Bahá'í Faith; the relationship between the individual and
Bahá'í institutions, the laws and ordinances of the Faith, and
the Covenant; the life and revelation of Bahá'u'lláh from 1863 to
1892; the life, writings, and station of `Abdu'l-Bahá; and
Bahá'í community history from 1863 to 1921. The program also
included developing skills in writing and in teaching the Faith.
The Spiritual Foundations program secured the services of fifteen faculty to
teach the subjects: Dr. Iraj Ayman, Lily Ayman, Dr. Roya Ayman, Dr. Saba
Ayman-Nolley, Shahab Fatheazam, Dr. Robert Henderson, Dr. Firuz Kazemzadeh, Dr.
Heshmat Moayyad, Dr. Peter Oldziey, Dr. Phyllis Perrakis, Mary K. Radpour,
Habib Riazati, Dr. David Ruhe, Margaret Ruhe, and Dr. Robert Stockman. As one
student noted, "the lectures have increased the commitment, dedication, and
understanding of those attending this training. Deep insights were gained by
everyone that I talked to."
In addition to classes, the students did volunteer service at the
Bahá'í National Center, the House of Worship, the
Bahá'í Home, and Bahá'í Publications. They went on
field trips to places visited by `Abdu'l-Bahá in Chicago and, following
a plan to provide first hand experience of the places of worship of other
religions, visited a nearby Sikh gurudwara.
The students prayed daily at dawn at the House of Worship and ended every
evening with prayers in the dorm. They elected their own seven-member student
council, held a fireside, conducted a memorial service for a departed student,
hosted a breakfast for the National Spiritual Assembly and its staff, assembled
a yearbook of the program, held three unity feasts, and audiorecorded the
classes for their own use.
The students' response to this well-rounded program included many resolves.
Students have committed themselves to giving monthly firesides and deepenings
based on the materials they are studying; to keeping alive the spirit of their
extraordinary community through telephone, letter, and email correspondence and
through working in support teams throughout the United States and Canada; to
helping each other in the ten-month home-study portion of the program; and to
being ambassadors for the Spiritual Foundations program by giving a number of
talks about the program.
Words are inadequate to express how well the residential session went this
year. One faculty member said she feels the Wilmette Institute's program is the
most effective, most efficient response she has seen to the call of the
Universal House of Justice for institutes. Another, who said his understanding
of what the program is about blossomed during his week in Wilmette, said that
the program must not fail and that he intends to do everything he can to make
it viable, including sending a contingent of students from his state. One
returning student said she almost did not come back because last year was so
good that this year was bound to be a disappointment; but the first week of
this session, she said, surpassed all of last year's session.
The students have now returned home to give firesides and deepenings and
continue their study. Their work will culminate in March with a final
The 1998-99 residential and home-study program will focus on the
Bahá'í community and administration and issues of the creation
and governance of human communities in general. The 1999-2000 program will
focus on the creation of global civilization. In the summer of 2000 the
four-year sequence will begin again with world religions in
Bahá'í perspective and Bahá'í theology (that is,
its concepts of God, revelation, humanity, creation, afterlife, and Covenant).
Each year also includes study of Bahá'í history and scripture,
workshops on teaching the Faith, and seminars focused on developing various
skills necessary to become better teachers and administrators of the
Students are welcome to enter the program each year; for more information
contact the Wilmette Institute, 536 Sheridan Rd., Wilmette, IL 60091;
847-733-3415 (telephone); 847-733-3563 (FAX); firstname.lastname@example.org
Plans for 1998-99 Spiritual Foundations Academic Year
The Wilmette Institute Board has announced the schedule for the 1998-99
academic year of its Spiritual Foundations for a Global Civilization
Preparatory Home Study: May 1-July 15, 1998
Arrival in Wilmette: Sat. morning, July 18
Orientation, Welcoming Dinner: Sat., July 18
Evaluations, Farewell Dinner: Sat., Aug. 8
Departures: Sun., Aug. 9
A day has been added to provide time for evaluations and discussion of the
subsequent home study program.
About half of next year's course will consist of an exploration of how human
communities are formed and how they govern themselves, both historically and
according to current political theory. In particular, the Bahá'í
administrative order and the Bahá'í community will be examined in
the context of history and theory, their salient features will be identified,
and they will be studied as both a theory and practice of community
Among the topics to be covered are: Political Theory; the Model of the
Bahá'í Administrative Order; Institutions of the
Bahá'í Administrative Order; the Sociology of Communities and
Organizations; the Bahá'í Community; the Bahá'í
Faith and Global Governance; and the Bahá'í Vision of World
Order. Bahá'í and academic perspectives on human communities and
their governance in general and on the foundational principle of consultation
as it relates to Bahá'í governance and Bahá'í
community building, will be explored through lectures, text-based consultation,
individual and group work, personal reflection and meditation, the arts,
service, and community building among the students. Immersion in the
Bahá'í writings relevant to community will be a key emphasis of
the course. It will require the rigor and scholarly attention of university
study. Readings from both Bahá'í and academic books (several of
which will be available for purchase) will be required. There will be a reserve
room of readings available during the residential session. The module may be
taken for a grade (A, B, C, D, F) or pass/fail.
The scripture and history modules will examine the life of Shoghi Effendi
(1897-1957) and his writings, and the history of the Bahá'í Faith
from 1921 to 1963. A major purpose of the modules will be to show how the
Guardian, chief architect of the Bahá'í Administrative Order,
erected the framework necessary for a flourishing and expanding worldwide
The skills building module for 1998-99 will focus on techniques, such as
consultation and the facilitation of the consultative process, that aid the
individual in contributing successfully to the development of the
Bahá'í community and its system of governance. A series of
classes on teaching the Faith will highlight the importance of teaching to
community building and assembly functioning. All the modules will be designed
to reinforce the overall theme of 1998-99: Bahá'í community and
The Wilmette Institute is already accepting applications for 1998-99.
Fifteenth `Irfán Colloquium: A Study in Prophecy, Comparative
The Fifteenth `Irfán Colloquium was held at the Bahá'í
National Center, Wilmette, Illinois, August 9-10, 1997. Sponsored by the Haj
Mehdi Arjmand Memorial Fund, it focused on the theme of "World Religions and
the Bahá'í Faith."
The colloquium was opened Saturday morning by Dr. David Ruhe, former member of
the Universal House of Justice, who spoke about the prophetic nature of the
revelation of Bahá'u'lláh. Dr. Susan Maneck then offered a
presentation on "A Comparison of Mass Movements in Hindu Villages:
Bahá'í and Christian." She explored the differences between
conversion to Christianity and to the Bahá'í Faith among rural
Hindus, finding that the Bahá'í Faith was more successful in
attracting people from all castes.
Saturday afternoon Nabil Fares spoke about "Ascertaining the Validity of
Islamic Hadíth: A Personal Perspective." The Bahá'í
Faith utilizes and, therefore, validates a large number of
hadíth, or traditions of words and acts, of the Prophet Muhammad.
Joan Sheppard then spoke about "Salvation: Staticity into Motion," offering
tentative conclusions about the development of the notion of salvation in
Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and the Bahá'í Faith. The afternoon
concluded with a presentation by Muin Afnani on "Religion and Science in
Harmony: A New Reality," an exploration of the relationship between science and
religion in history, in the world religions, and in Bahá'í
Saturday evening Mozhan Khadem gave a presentation titled "The Hidden
Treasure." Utilizing audio and visual aides, he explored Bahá'í
'irfán or mystical knowledge, especially in such subjects as the
Most Holy Outpouring, Wonderment, Life in God, and the various worlds of God
(such as the World of Cause and the World of Creation).
Sunday morning two presentations were given. Dann May spoke about "The Blind
Men and the Elephant: Perspectives in Buddhist and Bahá'í
Metaphysics," which offered alternate Bahá'í interpretations of
such key Buddhist concepts as nirvana (enlightenment), sunyata (emptiness),
anatta (no soul), rebirth, and karma. Finally, Paul Dodenhoff delivered a talk
on "Buddy, Can You Spare A Paradigm? The Bahá'í Faith and the New
Age Movement," an examination of the history of the New Age Movement and ways
Bahá'ís can relate to it.
Papers from the colloquium will eventually be published in the Haj Mehdi
Arjmand Memorial Series, the first volume of which is scheduled to be published
by George Ronald in October. Meanwhile, a book of the abstracts is available
for $3 from the Research Office, Bahá'í National Center,
Wilmette, IL 60091. The 1998 `Irfán Colloquium will also focus on "World
Religions and the Bahá'í Faith."
Comments by a College Professor
"I just had a wonderful weekend at the Irfan Colloquium and spent a
couple of extra days at the Wilmette Institute. If you ever get the chance to
attend the Wilmette Institute, do so. I found it was very well done with
presentations at a high academic standard. The two days I was there were
devoted to Bahá'u'lláh's Writings during the Baghdad period. You
should have been there! Moojan Khadem, son of [the] Hand of the Cause Mr.
Khadem gave a marvelous talk on Bahá'u'lláh's `irfán
[mystical and theological teachings]. Apparently Mr. Khadem was a student of
Annemarie Schimmel [a world-famous professor of Sufism] for four years, and he
really knows his stuff."
The Ode to Baker Hall
[Baker Hall is the dormitory at National Louis University in Wilmette where the
Spiritual Foundations students stayed during the residential sessions in both
1996 and 1997.]
B is for Bob, the man who makes it hum.
A is for the atmosphere which is really glum.
K is for the K...K...K...cold showers.
E is for egad for those awful artificial flowers.
R is for the reek that is so stinky.
H is for the home that can be so dinky.
Ants, flies and dust are there to behold.
Look not far, look not near, boy that water's really cold!
Love is a many splendored thing--Baker Hall is not!
O Baker Hall, O Baker Hall
We weep, we cry, we sob,
Even to live there you've really got to be a slob!
God Bless, God Bless!
O what a mess!
Course Centers on Bahá'u'lláh's Baghdad Period
A one-week course on the Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh during
the Baghdad period (1853-63) was held in Wilmette on August 10-15. Cosponsored
by the Wilmette Institute and the Haj Mehdi Arjmand Memorial Fund, the course
is the first in a series on the revelation of Bahá'u'lláh and the
second educational program to be offered by the Wilmette Institute.
Classes were given by a faculty that included Muin Afnani, Dr. Iraj Ayman, Dr.
John Hatcher, Mozhan Khadem, and Dann May. An audio recording of a presentation
by Mr. Glenford Mitchell entitled "Remembering Shoghi Effendi As Interpreter:
The Literature of Interpretation" was played at the end of the program. The
students have pledged themselves to a year of home study to enable them to
teach others about the tablets Bahá'u'lláh revealed during the
In 1998 a similar course will focus on the Revelation of
Bahá'u'lláh during the Constantinople and Adrianople periods
(1863-68), when most of the tablets to the kings were revealed.
Scholarship in Honor of Henry J. Wurmfeld
On Friday, August 28, 1997, Mr. Henry Wurmfeld, father of Yael Wurmfeld,
passed away. Mr. Wurmfeld was in his 80s. To honor him and his daughter, who is
a Wilmette Institute student and who served the program with exemplary devotion
and self-sacrifice this summer, the Wilmette Institute Board has decided to
award a scholarship in his name in the 1998-99 academic year. The Board prays
for the progress of Mr. Wurmfeld's soul and the comfort of the loved ones he
Spiritual Foundations Home Study
In early September the 1997-98 class of the Spiritual Foundations program was
sent the home-study unit on `Abdu'l-Bahá's writings and talks. It is a
two-month program that involves studying ten books, completing a study outline
on each, and writing several brief essays about topics that relate to the theme
of this year (the development of the individual and the creation of strong
Bahá'í marriages and families). The assignment is due on November
15 and will be followed by an assignment on individual development.
Spiritual Foundations Groups
The 1997-98 Spiritual Foundations students have now been divided into five
study groups. Three formed themselves, and members have been assigned to the
other two. They are as follows:
Group #1: Aurore Ragston, Amy McGehee, Joy Amos, Perla Talebi, Alice
Ferro, Nancy Turner.
Group #2: Patricia Haynie, Sarah Hope Bansemer, Carlie Barbour, Aaron
Cederquist, Katayoun Sadri
Group #3: Marc Greenberg, Becky Rouhi, Cyndi Diessner, Yael Wurmfeld,
Vicki Kwashka, Neda Etemad
Group #4: Ruhiyyih Brown, Sandra Miles, Amy Sobhani, Carol Bardin,
Group #5: Charlotte Gallagher, Shar Gardella, Maya Hetman, Keith
Hetman, Amanda Respess, Roberta Bruns
If students have questions about their group, please call Rob Stockman at
1997-98 Student Council Elected
On Friday, July 25, the Spiritual Foundations students attending the
residential session gathered to deepen, pray, and elect the members of their
Student Council for 1997-98. The seven elected were:
Dr. Carlie Barbour (Recording Secretary)
Dr. Charlotte Gallagher
Mr. Mark Greenberg
Mrs. Patricia Haynie (Chair)
Ms. Amy McGehee
Ms. Aurore Ragston (Treasurer)
Ms. Amanda Respess (Corresponding Secretary)
Spiritual Foundations students may write to the council in care of its
secretary, Amanda Respess, at the Bahá'í National Center,
Wilmette, IL 60091.
From E-mail Messages Posted on Global
Arrived home on Saturday and started to work on Sunday, didn't realize what I
had with you until I started to work.
Had a women who was upset because she felt I had served someone ahead of her.
The fact that she had stepped out of line was irrelevant. I apologized
profusely, but to no avail. I realized that she was determined to be upset and
nothing and no one was going to change her. It was the early part of the
morning and already she had decided the tone of her day. Carole King sings
"Mirrored in their faces I see frustration growing and they don't see it
showing why should I?" People were like this all day in one way or another. It
made me so grateful for the love, caring, generosity, sacrifice, sensitivity
and kindnesses that were the hallmark of the four weeks spent in Wilmette. I
can't forget you and appreciate the many lessons of love you demonstrated and
Aurore Denise [Ragston] [August 20, 1997]
There is a type of culture shock that one experiences after attending
such a precious setting as is found at the Wilmette Institute residential. I,
too, found that same type of setting and the same type of (after) culture shock
after attending 2 weeks of residential with the TGSA students in Minneapolis
this summer. It was awesome to be in another place where it felt like a Baha'i
gathering. When I returned to my earthly life in Yuma, I felt much like people
who have described their near-death experiences and rather minded being
resuscitated back to life as they found it harder to cope with life now that
they had experienced something so spiritual.
By the way--I really missed, painfully missed, not being able to attend the
residential in Chicago this summer. I felt you all and prayed for you during
that time (especially the first week) that you were in attendance.
All my love, kate oduyale
hello everyone (faculty & students):
hope that everyone is doing ok and getting back to the routines. it was such a
pleasure to get to know almost everyone of you. since past week, i have been
thinking about my experience that i had in WI., and frankly, i liked every
minute of it. however, i am glad that i am back because work is much more
relaxing comparing to our schedule there, and hot showers (Mark are you
there???!!). well, i am sure that i need start studying for the classes soon.
how appropriate?!!! when and to whom should we send our homeworks specially the
one for Mr. Riazati? if anyone knows, please let me know. it would be nice
actually if i knew what the homeworks are to start with.
I came back and I realized that there are lots of things going on in our
community and so wonderful that i can be of more service.
please let me know how everyone is doing if you get this post.
hope you'll have a great weekend.
miss everyone of you TRULY.
Progress on the Yearbook
Since the residential session ended, substantial progress has been made on the
Yearbook. Cindy Diessner drove to Wilmette over Labor Day weekend, learned
PageMaker (with Dr. Derakhshani's help), and set up a master grid for the pages
of the Wilmette Institute Board, the faculty, and the students. Then she did
rough layouts for the pages, including text. Rhonda C. Wittorf, the office
assistant for the Bahá'í Encyclopedia project, has optically
scanned dozens of photographs. Now Rhonda is cleaning up the pages and fixing
the photographs with Pagemaker technology. Text is missing for much of the rest
of the book, though the sections have been mapped out. Cindy plans to call some
students and ask for write-ups of certain events and classes. The Yearbook
promises to be a treasure trove of memories for the students, faculty, and
staff who participated in it and a unique introduction to the program for those
who did not attend. Its cost will be $5.00, thanks to a donation to support the
From Anonymous 1997 Residential Student Evaluations:
To raise up a new generation of deepened and articulate teachers of
the Faith committed to teaching and service. I am awed at how every
instructor provided a vital and dynamic piece necessary to achieve this
purpose! Everyday we were stunned at how much knowledge and wisdom and new
ideas and perspectives were offered to and opened up to us and how each piece
fit so perfectly on the one laid down before. Michael [Penn] and Saba
[Ayman-Nolley] provided the basis of the structure--opening up our
understanding of ourselves and God. Phyllis [Perrakis] worked on the practical
aspects of developing our skills to be more articulate in presenting our
thoughts yet also adapted her classes to incorporate what we were learning in
our other classes. Habib [Riazati] guided us to investigating and digging deep
into the Holy writings to learn to go to a multitude of writings to gain deeper
understanding. Dr. [Heshmat] Moayyad brought `Abdu'l-Bahá to life in
words as well as brought `Abdu'l-Bahá to life right in front of us as I
know `Abdu'l-Bahá was shining through him for he manifested all love,
humility, and devotion. Peter [Oldziey] opened a whole new door in teaching and
demonstrating love and friendship. Until his classes, I was so worried about
how to go about teaching for fear I wouldn't know what to say. But he taught
trust in intuition and the senses (as Michael had begun to open up awareness of
the senses and Michael and Saba's instruction recognizing the wholeness of the
individual in mind, body, soul, senses with God). Realizing that firesides need
to focus on forming a bond of friendship and love--I became aware that I'll
have no problem for I can easily start with that and build upon my knowledge
and skills and ability to present the teachings coherently. Rob [Stockman]
opened another new perspective of the history of the Faith and stimulated my
interest and desire to better understand the history of the Faith as well as
the environment and communities, etc. at the time. Mary Kay [Radpour] helped me
to become more alert to, aware of and more able to understand myself and
relationships and possibilities of better relationships. Dr. [Iraj] Ayman
provided so much vital information needed to better understand the laws and
teachings and why it is so vital to follow them. It is very difficult to
express all I've gained from each person. May it suffice to say that I gained a
world from each one. Everyone provided love and teachings that I will carry
with me forever and strive to pass on and share with others and will be
incorporating into my new life ahead.
The cohesion of the students was a most meaningful part of this
experience. Experience, enthusiasm and dedication of instructors in their areas
of knowledge was very good.
I realized that the purpose is to train people for a different level
of teacher and was surprised at the encouragement to start now! But this is
My sense of what the Bahá'í Faith [is] has truly
expanded to a more 3 dimensional view.
I'm very pleased. I came here to get a deeper grounding in the Faith
so I could better serve a growing young community and feel like I have a lot of
good knowledge to go home with.
Oh my heart! I knew I needed to come to this to the point it was vital
to my life. To my ability to truly live and teach the Faith. But I had no
inkling as to the wonder-full blessings I would reap here! Some of the
blessings: new spirit, new insight, purer perceptions, new knowledge, new
wisdom, new skills which can be refined and developed, a new heart! In every
way . . . intellectually, spiritually, and on and on . . . beyond perfect! I
now know that through God, through abiding by the laws, I will have the
confidence and ability to live and teach the Faith . . . (of course with never
ending seeking and learning!)
Coming back this year, one could be concerned that, based upon last
year's program, the bar was quite high. The program in 1997 far exceeded all my
expectations. Needless to say next will require additional effort. However, if
the chemistry of the students and faculty work then the program cannot help but
be a success.
I greatly value and admire your [the Wilmette Institute Board's] love,
patience, dedication, sacrifice, respect, and value of each individual, your
time, your hard work, your flexibility, your ability to foster self-esteem,
well-being, development of knowledge, strengths, skills . . . Thank you!
Habib Riazati Discusses Unquenchable Thirst for God
Question: I'm wondering if I may ask a question about a prayer in
Selections From the Writings of Abdu'l-Baha, p. 150. The third line from
the top, toward the end of the prayer, reads: "All that thou hast in thy cellar
will not appease the thirst of my love--bring me, O cup-bearer, of the wine of
the spirit a cup full as the sea!"
Do you know the circumstance, the source of this prayer, where it was revealed,
and is there a meaning attached to "my love" not being capitalized?
I would greatly appreciate your understanding of it, if you find the time to
Answer: Thank you for your loving message. Concerning your question
about the passage that appears in Selections from the Writings of
`Abdu'l-Bahá, the prayer to which you are referring is part of the
celebrated tablet called the "Tablet of Purity" by the beloved Master. If you
pay very close attention to the tablet you will see how the passage you have
For it is even as Thou hast said `All that thou hast in thy cellar will
not appease the thirst of my love--bring me, O cup-bearer, of the wine of the
spirit a cup full as the sea!' [italics added] (p. 150)
Here Thou is referring to His holiness Bahá'u'lláh. For
example, in a poem known as Sáqí-az-Ghayb-i-Baqá,
which is an ode He revealed in Kurdistan, one will find the same passage: "all
that thou hast in thy cellar will not appease the thirst of my love--bring me,
O cup-bearer, of the wine of the spirit a cup full as the sea!" (second line).
This poem is in Persian and you can see it in
Má'idiy-i-Ásmání, vol. 4, pages 209-211.
This is a poem about detachment and sacrifice. In the tablet
Bahá'u'lláh affirms that the true lovers who yearn after the
beloved are those who are detached from all earthly things and are ready to
give up everything in His path even if that be their lives. One line of the
poem states that the true lover always wants to drink more of the Spiritual
Wine and his thirst never will be eased by just a full cup. That is to say: the
more we walk in the valley of Love of God, the more we feel in need of that
Bahá'u'lláh in a tablet refers to this line of the poem and then
explains that the true lovers are like fishes and the Beloved is like the
water: fish never want to give up the water, rather they always wish for a
fresher flow of it. The true lovers also never feel fully content with what
they receive from their Beloved and always wish for more. He moreover adds that
if the lover spend a thousand years with his heart's Beloved it will be as if
he had been with Him for an hour. You can see this tablet in "Hadíqih
Irfán," pages 82-85, published in Andalib.
The beloved Master, in a tablet, uses this poem in order to describe the true
meaning of firmness in the Covenant. In this tablet He says that the true lover
is always mindful of the Covenant and constantly yearns to obtain a much deeper
understanding of it in comparison to what he may already know.
In short, although the passage you quoted has been used in various contexts,
nevertheless it always conveys the same message, that is, be not occupied with
the transitory things of this life, and yearn for more insight and
understanding from the One who is the "Desire of the World." In the Tablet of
Purity, which you quoted from, the Master uses this poem to express the various
degrees of holiness and the importance of higher detachments from the desires
of the flesh.
As to your question: "is there a meaning attached to "my love" not being
capitalized?" Here "my love" refers to the love that every true lover
manifests and therefore there is no need for it to be capitalized. That is to
say, all of those who have the love of Bahá'u'lláh in their
hearts are always wishing for more of His love and blessings.
Please forgive me for the lengthy reply.
[Note: the original e-mail appeared on Global. It has been edited for use in