Baha'i Library Online

COLLECTIONPilgrims' notes
TITLE'Abdu'l-Bahá in the Holy Land answers questions of Dr. Edward C. Getsinger in 1915
CONTRIB 1Edward C. Getsinger, comp.
VOLUMEVol. 6, No. 6
TITLE_PARENTStar of the West
ABSTRACTThe importance of humility, spiritual guidance, unity, and self-sacrifice over rigid adherence to law; the dangers of envy and ambition, true authority in the Faith is characterized by humility and service, not personal ambition.
NOTES Mirrored from
TAGS* `Abdu'l-Bahá, Writings and talks of; Consultation; Haifa, Israel; Humility; Law, Letter of; Laws; Leadership; Unity
CONTENT Utterances of 'Abdu'l-Bahá in answer to questions asked by Dr. Edward C. Getsinger during a few brief meetings at Haifa, Syria, January 26 to February 5, 1915, and recorded by Dr. Getsinger at the time.

No obstacle should be placed before any soul which might prevent it from finding the truth. Bahá'u'lláh revealed His directions, teachings, and laws, so that souls might know God, and not that any utterance might become an obstacle in their way.

Holding to the letter of the law is many times an indication of a desire for leadership. One who assumes to be the enforcer of the law shows an intellectual understanding of the Cause, but that spiritual guidance in them is not yet established.

The alphabet of things is for children, that they may in time use their reasoning powers. "Following the spirit" is a guidance by and through the heart, the prompter of the spirit. The Pharisees were extremely orthodox, holding strictly to the law. They were the cause of the condemnation and ultimate crucifixion of Jesus.

Several times tablets have been written to some friends regarding a small detail in the work of the Cause, which they might attend to, such as reporting about Azalis, nakazeen1, et al., and now we hear that such tablets are used as a proof of their authority over the friends in those regions. Although the books and writings of 'Abu'l Faḍl are used in many countries as text books, never did he even give a sign that he was an authority on any subject, consequently the gifts of God ever increased upon him, since he bore all honors in humility, until he attained to the supreme nearness.

The ones in real authority are known by their humility and self-sacrifice and show no attitude of superiority over the friends.

Some time ago a tablet was written stating that none are appointed to any authority to do anything but to serve the Cause as true servants of the friends—and for this no tablet is necessary; such service when true and unselfish, requires no announcement, nor following, nor written document.

Let the servant be known by his deeds, by his life!

To be approved of God alone should be one's aim.

When God calls a soul to a high station, it is because that soul has capacity for that station as a gift of God, and because that soul has supplicated to be taken into His service. No envies, jealousies, calumnies, slanders, plots, nor schemes, will ever move God to remove a soul from its intended place, for by the grace of God, such actions on the part of the people are the test of the servant, testing his strength, forbearance, endurance and sincerity under adversity. At the same time those who show forth envies, jealousies, etc., toward a servant, are depriving themselves of their own stations, and not another of his, for they prove by their own acts that they are not only unworthy of being called to any station awaiting them, but also prove that they cannot withstand the very first test—that of rejoicing over the success of their neighbor, at which God rejoices. Only by such a sincere joy can the gift of God descend unto a pure heart.

Envy closes the door of Bounty, and jealousy prevents one from ever attaining to the Kingdom of Abhá.

No! Before God! No one can deprive another of his rightful station, that can only be lost by one's unwillingness or failure to do the will of God, or by seeking to use the Cause of God for one's own gratification or ambition.

No one save a severed soul or a sincere heart finds response from God. By assisting in the success of another servant in the Cause does one in reality lay the foundation for one's own success and aspirations.

Ambitions are an abomination before the Lord.

How regrettable! Some even use the affairs of the Cause and its activities as a means of revenge on account of some personal spite, or fancied injury, interfering with the work of another, or seeking its failure. Such only destroy their own success, did they know the truth.


'Abdu'l-Bahá is the interpreter of the aims, intents, and purposes of the words of the Blessed Perfection (Bahá'u'lláh) and is the interpreter of his own written words, and none can say that this or that is the intention conveyed therein, save 'Abdu'l-Bahá. The spirit of unity exists in the Divine Words, and one who interprets them in such wise as to create a division and discord is indeed one who errs.

Were not the Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh one adaptable to the entire world and its diverse nations, it could not be a unique and universal Revelation, but its elasticity adapts itself to all conditions, and its spirit is one that moulds itself into every vehicle and need for the accomplishment of the divine plan of unity.

But when some follow merely the hard and fixed letter of the law, they deprive it (the Revelation) of its elastic quality—the spirit—and endeavor to convert it into a hard instrument of inflexible qualities.


In this day every one must be tested, as the time of the "chosen ones" to prove their worth is indeed very short. The day of attainment is drawing to a close for them. The "first fruits" must be ripened in spirit, mellowed in love, and consumed by their self-sacrifice and severance. None other are acceptable as first fruits, and all who fail to attain to the standard through the tests, are relegated to the "many who are called."

The more one is severed from the world, from desires, from human affairs, and conditions, the more impervious does one become to the tests of God. Tests are a means by which a soul is measured as to its fitness, and proven out by its own acts. God knows its fitness beforehand, and also its unpreparedness, but man, with an ego, would not believe himself unfit unless proof were given him. Consequently his susceptibility to evil is proven to him when he falls into the tests, and the tests are continued until the soul realizes its own unfitness, then remorse and regret tend to root out the weakness.

The same test comes again in greater degree, until it is shown that a former weakness has become a strength, and the power to overcome evil has been established.


Blessed are they who are the means of making unity among the friends, and pity on those who in the right or wrong are the cause of discord. For instance: When one is in the right in a case in dispute, and his minority prevents him from establishing this rightful matter, instead of agitating the subject, if he will humbly submit to sacrifice his position for the sake of unity and peace, God will accept that sacrifice and ere long the rightful matter will be established without any further dispute, by the Divine assistance; whereas without such sacrifice and submissiveness great harm might ensue.

The friends must be prepared to effaced themselves at all times. Seeking the approval of men is many times the cause of imperiling the approval of God.


The worst enemies of the Cause are in the Cause and mention the Name of God. We need not fear the enemies on the outside for such can be easily dealt with. But the enemies who call themselves friends and who persistently violate every fundamental law of love and unity, are difficult to be dealt with in this day, for the mercy of God is still great. But ere long this merciful door will be closed and such enemies will be attacked with a madness.


It has been a long time since letters have been received from the friends. Everything is first read by the censor, and all tablets likewise submitted to him, and as my mail alone would keep him very busy, we make no effort to trouble him. Tell Ahmad Yazdi not to send any more mail to me under any circumstances.


Indeed, I contemplate no journey, for who would look after the poor should I leave here to travel to America or elsewhere?


If you knew what great things would happen to the Cause after my departure, you would pray every day and night for my release and demise.

1. Nakazeen (Nághi dı́n) is term used by Bahá’ı́s for Covenant-breakers. See Glossary of Arabic and Persian Transcription. [A.B.]

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