Every discerning eye clearly sees that the early stages of this
chaos have daily manifestations affecting the structure of human
society; its destructive forces are uprooting time-honoured institutions
which were a haven and refuge for the inhabitants of the earth in
bygone days and centuries, and around which revolved all human affairs.
The same destructive forces are also deranging the political, economic,
scientific, literary, and moral equilibrium of the world and are
destroying the fairest fruits of the present civilization. Political
machinations of those in authority have placed the seal of obsolescence
upon the root-principles of the world's order. Greed and passion,
deceit, hypocrisy, tyranny, and pride are dominating features afflicting
human relations. Discoveries and inventions, which are the fruit
of scientific and technological advancements, have become the means
and tools of mass extermination and destruction...52
Chaos and confusion are daily increasing in the world. They will
attain such intensity as to render the frame of mankind unable to
bear them. Then will men be awakened and become aware that religion
is the impregnable stronghold and the manifest light of the world,
and its laws,exhortations and teachings the source of life on earth.53
The well-being of mankind, its peace and security, are unattainable
unless and until its unity is firmly established.54
Note: In 1912, Abdul-Baha -- the son of
the the Prophet-Founder of the Bahai Faith Bahaullah--
traveled to America to speak with various groups and individuals
about the need for universal peace. Looking to provide the safest
ship for his journey, the Bahais booked passage for him from
Europe aboard the Titantic. Much to their dismay, Abdul-Baha
instead decided to travel on a much smaller boat, the Cedric. The
Cedric arrived in New York before the Titanic catasrophe and the
day the tragedy was reporetd in the newspapers, Abdul-Baha
was asked why he decided against traveling on the Titanic. He simply
responded My heart did not prompt me to do so.
Shortly afterwards, Abdul-Baha spoke on this catastrophe and
some of the lessons which disasters of this kind can teach us. This
talk touches upon so many issues, it has been decided to include
it here in full:
Within the last few days a terrible event has happened in the world,
an event saddening to every heart and grieving every spirit. I refer
to the Titanic disaster, in which many of our fellow human beings
were drowned, a number of beautiful souls passed beyond this earthly
life. Although such an event is indeed regrettable, we must realize
that everything which happens is due to some wisdom and that nothing
happens without a reason. Therein is a mystery; but whatever the
reason and mystery, it was a very sad occurrence, one which brought
tears to many eyes and distress to many souls. I was greatly affected
by this disaster. Some of those who were lost voyaged on the Cedric
with us as far as Naples and afterward sailed upon the other ship.
When I think of them, I am very sad indeed. But when I consider
this calamity in another aspect, I am consoled by the realization
that the worlds of God are infinite; that though they were deprived
of this existence, they have other opportunities in the life beyond,
even as Christ has said, "In my Father's house are many mansions."
They were called away from the temporary and transferred to the
eternal; they abandoned this material existence and entered the
portals of the spiritual world. Foregoing the pleasures and comforts
of the earthly, they now partake of a joy and happiness far more
abiding and real, for they have hastened to the Kingdom of God.
The mercy of God is infinite, and it is our duty to rememoups andber
these departed souls in our prayers and supplications that they
may draw nearer and nearer to the Source itself.
These human conditions may be likened to the matrix of the mother
from which a child is to be born into the spacious outer world.
At first the infant finds it very difficult to reconcile itself
to its new existence. It cries as if not wishing to be separated
from its narrow abode and imagining that life is restricted to that
limited space. It is reluctant to leave its home, but nature forces
it into this world. Having come into its new conditions, it finds
that it has passed from darkness into a sphere of radiance; from
gloomy and restricted surroundings it has been transferred to a
spacious and delightful environment. Its nourishment was the blood
of the mother; now it finds delicious food to enjoy. Its new life
is filled with brightness and beauty; it looks with wonder and delight
upon the mountains, meadows and fields of green, the rivers and
fountains, the wonderful stars; it breathes the life-quickening
atmosphere; and then it praises God for its release from the confinement
of its former condition and attainment to the freedom of a new realm.
This analogy expresses the relation of the temporal world to the
life hereafter - the transition of the soul of man from darkness
and uncertainty to the light and reality of the eternal Kingdom.
At first it is very difficult to welcome death, but after attaining
its new condition the soul is grateful, for it has been released
from the bondage of the limited to enjoy the liberties of the unlimited.
It has been freed from a world of sorrow, grief and trials to live
in a world of unending bliss and joy. The phenomenal and physical
have been abandoned in order that it may attain the opportunities
of the ideal and spiritual. Therefore, the souls of those who have
passed away from earth and completed their span of mortal pilgrimage
in the Titanic disaster have hastened to a world superior to this.
They have soared away from these conditions of darkness and dim
vision into the realm of light. These are the only considerations
which can comfort and console those whom they have left behind.
Furthermore, these events have deeper reasons. Their object and
purpose is to teach man certain lessons. We are living in a day
of reliance upon material conditions. Men imagine that the great
size and strength of a ship, the perfection of machinery or the
skill of a navigator will ensure safety, but these disasters sometimes
take place that men may know that God is the real Protector. If
it be the will of God to protect man, a little ship may escape destruction,
whereas the greatest and most perfectly constructed vessel with
the best and most skillful navigator may not survive a danger such
as was present on the ocean. The purpose is that the people of the
world may turn to God, the One Protector; that human souls may rely
upon His preservation and know that He is the real safety. These
events happen in order that man's faith may be increased and strengthened.
Therefore, although we feel sad and disheartened, we must supplicate
God to turn our hearts to the Kingdom and pray for these departed
souls with faith in His infinite mercy so that, although they have
been deprived of this earthly life, they may enjoy a new existence
in the supreme mansions of the Heavenly Father.
Let no one imagine that these words imply that man should not be
thorough and careful in his undertakings. God has endowed man with
intelligence so that he may safeguard and protect himself. Therefore,
he must provide and surround himself with all that scientific skill
can produce. He must be deliberate, thoughtful and thorough in his
purposes, build the best ship and provide the most experienced captain;
yet, withal, let him rely upon God and consider God as the one Keeper.
If God protects, nothing can imperil man's safety; and if it be
not His will to safeguard, no amount of preparation and precaution
will avail. 55
*Earthquake of 1906