The Valley of Unity
A meditation written to Galya regarding the Valley of Unity, the fourth Valley of seven in “The Seven and the Four Valleys” by Bahá’u’lláh.
Dear friend
A beloved sister spirit has sent to me over the past few weeks various links to that magnificent project in which you have been engaged, and in her last letter she did invite me to walk once more in your gardens of spiritual delight and embracing joyfulness. Your effort has seen the arising of a monumental demonstration of the outflowing of inspiration; the devotion placed into this orchard of delicious fruits and this panorama of gracefully scented blossoms is self-evident.
Among the places in your garden that I have been sent to wander enraptured is that with . This in its place turned my attention to that same chapter of that Book.
I am no scholar, and even in my mystical bent see in myself naught but the idle wanderings of a lost one in the vales of error and misunderstanding. It is beyond me to discuss the subtleties of fna, whether that be as in fana or in fina, yet in that differentiation wonder if one is but a precursor to the other, for the courtyard is but entrance to extinction, and extinction is yet a courtyard to existence, so are they thus any different to each other? With such an inability to understand or comprehend one of the smallest and least of His mysteries, how could I attempt to usurp any pretention to awareness or knowledge of the rarified plane discussed by the Ancient Beauty in this chapter of His Book. Yet, walking still in the ways of self assurance and blinded still by the degrees of limitation and difference, I would offer some thoughts, aware that they can be but theory and thus unproven and thus not words upon which any can in even the least ways rely.
In reading, the following blessed Verse from His Holiness The Báb came to mind:
“Indeed that august Being resembleth the physical sun, His verses are like its rays, and all believers, should they truly believe in Him, are as mirrors wherein the sun is reflected. Their light is thus a mere reflection.”
(Selections from the Writings of the Báb, p. 92)
and again:
“Verily then make your hearts the daysprings of His exalted Names as recorded in the Book, and ye shall, even as mirrors placed before the sun, be able to receive enlightenment.”
(Selections from the Writings of the Báb, p. 131)
As in His description of the Valley of Unity, we see reiterated, to this one’s perception, those words above from the Beloved in the Beloved’s first paragraph of this chapter:
“He seeth in himself neither name nor fame nor rank, but findeth his own praise in praising God. He beholdeth in his own name the name of God; to him, ‘all songs are from the King,’ and every melody from Him. He sitteth on the throne of ‘Say, all is from God,’ and taketh his rest on the carpet of ‘There is no power or might but in God.’ ”
(The Seven Valleys, p. 17)
In this condition, the wayfarer sees not the manifestation in the object of its potentialities but sees instead the source of these potentialities. He no longer “gazeth only upon the place of the appearance(The Seven Valleys, p. 20) but sees “nothing but the sun itself(The Seven Valleys, p. 21)
Why is it so difficult to do the simple? How hard can it be to dissassociate oneself from what the Taoists call the “ten thousand things”, to cleanse with “love and severance” the heart “from all save God”? It is thus that each of the Valleys that preceed are a preparation for entrance to this valley, as this valley becomes a preparation for the ones that follow it. Without search, one may know that this path exists but will be unable to find it, while without love one cannot bear the pain inherent in this direction nor generate the fire needed to burn away the veilings, and without knowledge one becomes as a blinded wayfarer, unable to differentiate between the Light of the True One and the light of the flames of hell fire, which fire is naught but the veiling of the self from the illumination of the One God.
“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.”
(The Seven Valleys, p. 20)
The answer to that earlier question lies perhaps in these words, found yet further in the traversal of this chapter:
“And the splendor of that light is in the hearts, yet it is hidden under the veilings of sense and the conditions of this earth, even as a candle within a lantern of iron, and only when the lantern is removed doth the light of the candle shine out.”
(The Seven Valleys, p. 22)
This Valley is clearly, from these Holy Words, not a place or position upon this earth but rather an existence in the Realms of the Spirit. Even the term ‘earth’ cannot be taken in its literal sense to mean this physical earth, for at various places Bahá’u’lláh refers to non-material things as ‘earthly’ - if one example may be quoted, on page 3 of the Kitáb-i-Íqan we find “idle talk”, “vain imaginings” and “worldly affections” listed. Without any doubt, each person will find for themselves many other references which demonstrate this concept. And even as regards the term ‘world’ the Dayspring of Truth has said:
“Say: By the world is meant that which turneth you aside from Him Who is the Dawning-Place of Revelation, and inclineth you unto that which is unprofitable unto you.”
(Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 54)
This “lantern of iron” could thus be perceived as our attachment to the things that make up this world and our clinging to our habitual ways and our mortal desires, not in themselves wrong or an error, but merely misplaced in position. I must eat, but if eating takes precedence over Worship then it becomes as a veil, while if I eat as an act of Worship then it can become praiseworthy.
To this one, ignorant and thirsty still in the vale of search, this valley ipitomises the transition, the transmutation if one would, from copper to gold. One has been passed through the fire, the dross has been burnt away and, in the Bright Sun of the Day gleams with brightness and glory. Yet it is not one’s own glory and light that is reflected, but the Light and the Glory of the Great Assayer, Who can then, in the valleys which lie further along the way, take this nugget and mould it, shape it, beat it and further beautify it to His Own Glorification and Praise.
O my God, O my God, have pity on my impotence, my abasement, my indigence, my shame, and my humility. Give me the cup of Thy forgiveness and Thy gift, move me by the breath of Thy love, dilate my breast by the light of Thy knowledge, purify my person by the mysteries of Thy Singleness, and quicken me through the breezes of the garden of Thy mercy so that I may sever myself from all beside Thee, lay hold of the hem of the mantle of Thy majesty, forget aught else save Thee, be associated with the fragrance of Thy days, be enabled to continue faithful in the threshold of Thy sanctity and stand up in the service of Thy Cause, be submissive and lowly before Thy beloved ones and to account myself as nothing in the presence of Thy chosen ones. Verily, Thou art the Helper, the Assister, the Exalted, the Generous!
(Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá v2, p. 366)
With the warmth of love and joy
April 2007
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