July 25, 2015

The King and the Dervish

Whereas riches may become a mighty barrier between man and God, and rich people are often in great danger of attachment, yet people with small worldly possessions can also become attached to material things. The following Persian story of a king and a dervish [1] illustrates this:

Once there was a king who had many spiritual qualities and whose deeds were based on justice and loving-kindness. He often envied the dervish who had renounced the world and appeared to be free from the cares of this material life, for he roamed the country, slept in any place when night fell and chanted the praises of his Lord during the day. He lived in poverty, yet thought he owned the whole world. His only possessions were his clothes and a basket in which he carried the food donated by his well-wishers. The king was attracted to this way of life.

Once he invited a well-known dervish to his palace, sat at his feet and begged him for some lessons about detachment. The dervish was delighted with the invitation. He stayed a few days in the palace and whenever the king was free preached the virtues of a mendicant's life to him. At last the king was converted. One day, dressed in the garb of a poor man, he left his palace in the company of the dervish. They had walked together some distance when the dervish realized that he had left his basket behind in the palace. This disturbed him greatly and, informing the king that he could not go without his basket, he begged permission to return for it. But the king admonished him, saying that he himself had left behind his palaces, his wealth and power, whereas the dervish, who had preached for a lifetime the virtues of detachment, had at last been tested and was found to be attached to this world -- his small basket.

July 1, 2015

No peace in the city of Tabriz on July 9, 1850 – the martyrdom of the Báb

As the Bábís of Zanjan continued courageously to defend themselves against the assaults of the army, the Grand Vizier of Persia grew angrier than before. He had heard of the heroic ways in which the Bábís at Fort Tabarsi and Nayriz had managed to fight off their attackers, now he had to deal with a similar episode at Zanjan – a town located about 180 miles northwest of the Capital, Tehran.

The Grand Vizier was witnessing his own futile attempts to stifle the new Faith. He was getting frustrated and angrier than ever. He realized that the Báb might be imprisoned in a remote corner of the country, but His Cause continued to spread. Nothing seemed to dampen the enthusiasm of His followers. To crush their spirit, he felt he must eliminate their leader. Therefore he ordered that the Báb be brought one last time to Tabriz - this time to be executed.

Forty days before the Grand Vizier's orders arrived, the Báb gathered together His few belongings - His pen-case, His rings, His precious Writings, and the seals with which He stamped the wax that sealed His letters. The Báb sent all of these things with a trusted servant to Baha’u’llah, along with a special gift -a scroll of fine blue paper embellished with the design of a five-pointed star. The delicate lines of the star were lines of words written in the Báb's own elegant handwriting - five hundred words all related to the word "Baha," meaning "Glory." The scroll was a gift of praise from the Báb to Baha’u’llah.