Articles

Learner's Poem Inspired by "Valley of True Poverty and Absolute Nothingness"

Feb 01, 2021

Image: Book Cover, “The Seven Valleys” 2011 [Bahá’u’lláh (Author), Corinne Randall (Illustrator), Marzieh Gail (Translator)]

Course: The Seven Valleys and the Arts of Transformation (2020)
Faculty Mentor: Peggy Caton
Learner: Pamela Brode – Durham, North Carolina

I wrote a poem which was inspired by the “The Valley of True Poverty and Absolute Nothingness.” Reading this Valley made me more keenly aware of how extraordinarily blessed we are to have the Bahá’í Writings to give us solace, hope and guidance at a time when the world all around us is suffering and in such misery. It brought to mind the following passages revealed by Bahá’u’lláh’s oldest Son, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’: 

In this world we are influenced by two sentiments, Joy and Pain… Joy gives us wings! In times of joy our strength is more vital, our intellect keener, and our understanding less clouded. We seem better able to cope with the world and to find our sphere of usefulness. But when sadness visits us we become weak, our strength leaves us, our comprehension is dim and our intelligence veiled. The actualities of life seem to elude our grasp, the eyes of our spirits fail to discover the sacred mysteries, and we become even as dead beings.

There is no human being untouched by these two influences; but all the sorrow and the grief that exist come from the world of matter—the spiritual world bestows only the joy!

If we suffer it is the outcome of material things, and all the trials and troubles come from this world of illusion…Today, humanity is bowed down with trouble, sorrow and grief, no one escapes; the world is wet with tears; but, thank God, the remedy is at our doors. Let us turn our hearts away from the world of matter and live in the spiritual world! It alone can give us freedom! If we are hemmed in by difficulties we have only to call upon God, and by His great Mercy we shall be helped.

Thus, spirituality is the greatest of God’s gifts, and “Life Everlasting” means “Turning to God. 

–‘Abdu’l‑Bahá, PARIS TALKS (Addresses Given by ‘Abdu’l‑Bahá in 1911), pp. 109-112

The passages above, as well as the following passages suggested by our dear mentor, had a particular influence on my poem. 

“It bestoweth wealth without gold, and conferreth immortality without death.”

(Kitab-i-Íqán p. 183 para. 217)

“In this city, even the veils of light are rent asunder and vanish away. ‘His beauty hath no veiling save light, His countenance no covering save revelation.’”

(from a hadith, Beloved p. 49)

“In this valley the wayfarer passeth beyond the stages of the “unity of existence” and the “unity of appearance” and reacheth a unity that is sanctified above both of these stations. Ecstasy alone can encompass this theme, not utterance nor argument…”

(Beloved p. 49 para. 84)

“Thereupon shall the fragrance of the All-Glorious be diffused from the realm of the All-Merciful, and thy heart shall grieve no more over the vicissitudes of a fleeting life and the turns of a transient fortune.”

(Beloved p. 67 para. 9)

True Ecstasy and Absolute Joy in the Valley of True Poverty and Absolute Nothingness

by Pamela Brode

Today, in the material world humanity is bowed down with trouble, sorrow and grief
The world is wet with tears of sadness, pain and fear and there seems to be no relief

For in this earthly world, all humans are influenced by sentiments of both joy and pain
But with pure hearts in communion with God, endless joy and healing are ours to gain

Our journey through the Seven Valleys awakens our spiritual being, purpose and reality
We seek truth, love and knowledge of God in prayer and a pure heart nurtured in spirituality

In trust and nearness of God, we enter the Valley of True Poverty and Absolute Nothingness
Where we die from self and live in God, and exhale in joy in a heavenly state of pure oneness

In this plane we are poor in the things of the material world, and rich in the Kingdom of God
And as we reach to the presence of the Beloved our hearts are kindled with the blaze of His love

He burns away from the world of matter all veils, attachments, superstitions and wrappings
And those who attain this plane are freed from things of the earthly world and its trappings

In this plane the Beloved bestows upon us wealth without gold and immortality without death
And while vestiges of all things are destroyed, we inhale without lungs the sweetest of breath

For we listen and breathe with heart and soul to the songs of the spirit, which we yearn to sing
And inhale the fragrance of the mystic paradise of the celestial garden in the season of spring

Thereupon shall the fragrance of the All-Glorious be diffused from the realm of the All-Merciful
And hearts shall grieve no more over vicissitudes of a fleeting life, ending pain of the sorrowful

No longer turned to transient fortune, we travel beyond the stages of the unity of existence
And go beyond the unity of appearance while clinging to the robe of God’s Laws in obedience

And soar in the heaven of singleness and reach to the sea of the Absolute in glorious exaltation
And attain oneness which ecstasy alone can encompass, sanctioned by the Beloved’s Revelation

As we travel in this plane we see that even the veils of light are split asunder and vanish away
But the Beloved is visible as the sun, as His light shines upon us to see the Revelation for this Day

And as our journey through these Seven Valleys have no visible ending in the world of time
Blessed are we to return to these heavenly Valleys to nurture our souls in the heavenly sublime

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