6. BAHA’U’LLAH

 

A DEDICATION

Baha’u’llah is at the very epi-centre of the Baha’i Cause. Indeed, He is, as the Universal House of Justice described Him in a recent letter, "the most precious Being ever to have drawn breath on this planet."(Ridvan, 1990). Of course, I do not expect those who are not Baha’is to share in this enthusiastic encomium, this claim which will appear extravagant if not intellectually outrageous. Still, we all have our sets of values, beliefs and attitudes, our religion in the broadest of terms—and this claim is part of my particular and extensive set of assumptions. I dedicate all that I have accomplished, all that is expressed in the resume in section 24 below and all that is written at this site, to this Being and the Universal House of Justice, trustee of the 'global undertaking'1 which the events of a century ago set in motion.(1Baha’u’llah, Baha’i International Community, Office of Public Information, NY, 1992.)

 A REVIEW OF THE BOOKLET 'BAHA'U'LLAH'

PUBLISHED IN 1991:

 

There have been several major efforts to write a biography, a story, an account of Baha'u'llah's life. The one I enjoy reading the most is a publication of the Baha'i International Community published by its Office of Public Information in New York. The Bahá'í International Community is a Baha’i agency under the direction of the Universal House of Justice in Haifa israel. It has consultative status with several UN organizations. It was made available to all National Assemblies and could be purchased in Baha'i bookshops in 1991.

Some 16,000 words, 150 paragraphs and 27 pages with over 100 references it places the life of Baha'u'llah in several contexts that are timely in this fin de siecle and the new century that beckons. In 2001 I transcribed a review of this statement, a review I wrote back in 1991, onto this web page. For it is my own opinion that this brief statement published in 1991 is the most accurate and relevant statement, understanding, which the Baha'i community possesses of the life of the 'most precious Being ever to have drawn breath on this planet.' 1

We are advised that this document is for our 'deep reflection' and 'contemplation.' It is also for our use in publicity and proclamation. The meaning of history and the prospect of the future underpin this entire essay. It is a work of exegesis, of interpretation, of hermeneutics as it is called in the field of sociology and religion. There is an orientation to action as there has always been in the history of exegesis beginning with the Guardian's writings in the 1920s.

There is an incisive perception, a versatility of analytical style and a power of definition that makes reading what has been made into a small book a pleasure. The classical literary tradition going back, perhaps, to Cicero and distilled by the Guardian continues on in the meticulous arrangement of sentences, in the creativity of the imagination, the respect for the meaning of words and the precise affect of paragraphs that the reader will find here, should he be willing to study this document.

Back in 1967, at Ridvan, The Universal House of Justice asked the Baha'i community to ponder on the significance, the meaning, of Baha'u'llah's life and His 'stupendous revelation.'. The question was asked in the context of the meaning of deepening and proclamation. I was just getting ready to pioneer among the Eskimos at the time. I was just about to finish my teacher training and get married. I found the questions provocative and challenging. After thirty years of attempting to answer these questions as best I could, I feel I have come across a statement that is, for our time, the definitive response to those challenging statements in that 1967 Ridvan message.

I read that Ridvan message in Fort William, the furthest point west in Canada I had then travelled. I read the booklet 'Baha'u'llah' living in Perth, the furthest west one can go in Australia. The questions and the booklet evoke a 'solemn consciousness' which is the 'wellspring of the most exquisite celebratory joy.'(The Universal House of Justice, April 3, 1991.) As we contemplate this man who, even when young, had "a faculty of speech like a rushing torrent,"2 and who has left us with over 21,000 Tablets and letters in Persian and Arabic, we realize that future biographers will again recount this story in yet additional efforts, in a language as adequate as they can muster. For now, Hasan Balyuzi's definitive biography, gives us the high points of Baha'u'llah's life which are clear; this latest effort of the International Baha'i Community gives us a very readable and scholary product. The followers of Baha'u'llah, now over five million, await ever-more-informative studies which will integrate yet more pertinent authentic detail which time and study will unearth.

History is capable of underscoring the record, the transaction, of the past for the instruction of a future age. This document from the Office of Public Information contains much that could be seen as 'instruction.' The instruction that we receive could be said to come under the heading 'understanding' and 'the meaning of Baha'u'llah's Revelation.' There are so many examples, but I will return to this theme at a future date as I expand on this essay which I began ten years ago, back in 1991.

1 The Universal House of Justice, Ridvan, 1990.

2 Quoted in David Ruhe, Robe of Light, George Ronald, Oxford, 1994, p.xv.

Ron Price

14 June 1991/ Revised 22 July 2001

__________________________

MY PORTION

Certainly one of the many functions of this poetry is to bring together the words of different poets, the writings of the Central Figures of the Baha'i Faith, the world I live in and my own dear life. In this instance, beginning with a poem of Emily Dickinson(#498) which I read last night just before going to bed, the content seemed to lead serendipitously to a Tablet of Baha'u'llah wherein He writes about nature. In the end, my poem became, as I see it anyway, a meditation on that Tablet. And so, twelve hours after starting to read Emily's poem "I envy seas, whereon He rides," and then enjoying a good sleep, a walk in the bush and a light breakfast, I have completed the following poem. -Ron Price, Pioneering Over Four Epochs, 15 December 2002.

I don't envy the seas where

His will flows on or the spokes

of wheels, great jet craft or those

mountains by the river—all are

dispensations of Providence

ordained by the Ordainer for this

journey through noon and night

wherein I get my portion in those

chrysalite tablets that I may walk

above the world and find, as best

I can, those endless apt remarks.1

1 See Baha'u'llah, 'Lawh-i-Hikmat,' Tablets of Baha'u'llah, p.149.

Ron Price

15 December 2002

SECRETLY

Poetry, which British writer C.S. Lewis and Russian poet Osip Mandelstam, among others, say is impossible to define, is "the unique linguistic instrument"(1) our minds have to order their thoughts, emotions and desires." But poetry works so secretly and so insensibly that it is very difficult to trace the tracks it makes, the flowers that burst into blossom on its path or the lobes of balance it composes when old worlds are dieing and new ones are being formed, as they are so pervasively in our time. However secretly poetry works, these lobes of balance that I create possess an internal harmony and order derived from things unseen and from "the sweetness of a spiritual and imperishable fragrance"(2) which has been inhaled during the years of my life, during days of trying and testing when, perhaps, He did not let me alone. He is a mystery to me and, I am told, I am a mystery to Him. The prose-poems here are also a mystery to me as they unfolded during the building of the terraces on that Hill of God in the Arc Project on Mt. Carmel. I can evaluate these poems, but only within limits of analysis. They came. I wrote and I leave them to readers to make of them what they will. --Ron Price with thanks to (1) I.A. Richards, Practical Criticism, 1929 and (2) Baha'u'llah, The Book of Certitude, pp.8-9.

I'm trying to record and order

reactions to life, amazement

and wonder in a way that is

not satisfactory, not possible

to really do except in such a

miniscule, limited, way, modus

operandi. It's just some lively

feelings, life, situations, ideas

that I yearn and struggle with

passionately to express and

which I feel acutely, abundantly,(1)

in some deeper birth in solitude.

 

A passive quality, sensitiveness

trained mysteriously, imagination's

child operating as it does on the

streaming chaos of impressions

through which I hourly move and

have my being here. There's some

cultivation of the private in the midst

of an immense world of public fun—

entertainment, vulgarization—yes, the

world's and mine--sin and abyss, some

fragmentation and a unity with many

confusions and disparities transcended

in this locus of expression--the poem:

mine and His—for they are all for Him.

  1. Walter de la Mare, 'Dream and Imagination,' Behold the Dreamer, 1939.

 

Ron Price

7 January 2002

-----------------------------

THEY CAME

They came as separate poems and when I had what seemed like a sizeable number, I think it was usually somewhere between about fifty and a hundred, I made them into a little booklet. The plastic binding cost me five dollars at a local Xerox shop; the paper and the ink cartridge had another cost, let's say seven or eight dollars all up. From 1992 to 2007 I produced 61 booklets of some 6500 poems. It works out to a little more than two poems a day. I started writing poems back in 1962 at the age of eighteen with a friend, a Cathy Saxe, who lived in George Town Ontario. Then, in 1980, I started saving the poems I wrote. I was thirty-six at the time. At 48 I became even more serious about poetry. It was then 1992. As far as direction in my poetry was concerned, well, I really didn’t know where it was going. I had, from time to time, several senses or intimations of direction and, after one period of strong intimation in the mid-1990s, I organized my poetry into four time periods, each with a different heading or title drawing on the historical construction of the Shrine of the Bab and its embellishments in the gardens and terraces on Mt. Carmel as my metaphor, my physwical analogue.

I don’t write books of poetry as books. I don’t write them like, say, my autobiography, or my critical work on the study of Roger White's poetry. I don't lay them out like my website, my letters, my essays or my attempts at novels. My poetry has some inner evolution which, even after 42 years, is essentially mysterious.-Ron Price, Pioneering Over Four Epochs, May 12, 2004.

Back in the '80s I took little interest

in rhyming bed & head: there were

enough, I thought, banalities in life

without my adding to them. There was

so much I did not need to know:

the Hang Seng, the FTSE, the price of

gold, a new hoe, or bacon or bread.

My eye, as Shakespeare said, was in

a fine frenzy rolling from earth to heaven

and heaven to earth, with my imagination

bodying forth, turning things I did know into

a shape, giving them a habitation, a name---

something more than airy nothing.

Ron Price

May 12 2004

BRILLIANT INSIGHTS

Max Weber wrote his Sociology of Religion between 1911 and 1913, while 'Abdu'l-Baha was on His western tour. In that sociology Weber outlined his theory of charisma and its routinization. The timing was perfect. 'Abdu'l-Baha represented the beginnings of that routinization as well as some of that charisma. Weber's particular view of the sociology of religion was published posthumously in 1922. By then, it could be argued, the charisma of Baha'u'llah was fully routinized in the person of Shoghi Effendi or at least routinized in stage one with stage two of the routinization, the institutionalization, of that charisma in the Universal House of Justice four decades later. It was not until the late forties to the late seventies that Weber's theory of the sociology of charisma and its routinization became available in English. -Ron Price with thanks to Richard Noll, The Jung Cult: Origins of a Charismatic Movement, Fontana Books, London, 1996, p.17.

Was it just fortuitous......

...that the words for a theory,

a sociological theory of religion,

came into existence as the representative

of that full Force, charisma, was giving a

service of such heroic proportions that it

was unparalleled in our first century?(1)

 

.....that it burst forth from the fertile mind

of perhaps the greatest sociologist in its

history?......that it was published just as

The Force was fully routinized in the person

of that priceless pearl from Twin-Surging-Seas?

 

.....that we who became identified with this

precious Faith could read and underpin,

could reinforce our vision, in the several

epochs of the Formative Age, when we

served and strove to understand thanks

to that exegete of exegetes, his insights

and his brilliant dramaturgical rhetoric?

(1) Shoghi Effendi, God Passes by, p.279.

Ron Price

29 December 2001

SOME POETRY ON THE SUBJECT OF THE BLESSED BEAUTY

 CRYSTALIZING A BEAUTY

Once a man has had a vision of eternal beauty while wandering on his way, he can never cease to be haunted by it. He is doomed to be unquiet forever. For such men their only rest is an attenuated wandering. Price, after a series of 32 moves over more than fifty years years from 1947 to 1999, was faced with such an attenuated wandering. His wandering after 1999 was largely in his head rather than place to place. He would wander in that garden of a Baha’i consciousness that had emerged in a particular form in 1979 by means of the poetry of Roger White after twenty years of various moves and a slow cross-fertilization of ideas in the years 1959-1979.

What had been a virtual tabula rasa, perhaps as far back at the 1970s and before, at least insofar as the garden of poetry was concerned, was being filled up to overflowing by Baha’is and others who were poets, present day and historical, around the world, by simple and constitutive ideas that he anticipated would continue to evolve in the twenty-first century, in the years into his old age. Price would create his own plot, his own section, of the garden during this attenuated wandering. In this vahid(a 19 line poem) which follows he describes the origins of his vision, his garden plot ofpoetry -Ron Price with thanks to J. Hillis Miller, Six Reality Poets, The Belknap Press, Cambridge Press, 1965, p. 80.

That vision seemed to come in bits and pieces:

over cheesecake and coffee on cold Canadian

evenings, in stories about birds flying over Akka;

from the lips of a mother I loved, from lounge-rooms

filled with a bewilderingly strange concatenation of people

who would never go away, but only change their names

and would continue to haunt me forever, in a fire whose

roaring flame kept my mind unquiet as I wandered across

the face of the earth getting alternatively burnt or frozen.

 

The vision stayed gradually crystallizing a beauty

that was my very food and drink, but not always

tasty: indeed at times it was bitter, as Rumi says,

because it was my life.

Ron Price

8 January 2002

_______________ 

BEAUTY OF THE HONEYED MUSE

A curious tension exists between poetry and belief, idea, principle, or reason. That is, while we hear a good deal about poetry’s need to be based upon an explicit view of the meaning of existence, we are often very bored and exasperated by the poetry which testifies to such a view. That is why I think poetry, indeed the arts in general, must strive to be fresh, original, full of surprise, inventive, stimulating. This is not easy to do. I only achieve this sometimes. -Ron Price with thanks to Howard Nemerov, Poetry and Fiction Essays, Rutgers UP, New Brunswick, 1963, p.7.

What is this beauty that I see?

A medium of spiritual communication,

told of by the honeyed muse, rooted in

both law and reason, raised in imagination's

structure and eternal archtypes, patterns and

rules, rich in insight and suggestion, with a

high degree of unity, a pervasive, single,

individualizing quality, a consummatory

impulse, a continuity with the past and future

and a controlled dynamism and order,

its concentration of energy, deliberately created,

symbolic of the whole, of ontogenic significance,

due to artistic will, part of the aesthetic self-creating,

meta-statement on truth, dancing on the void, making

us artists of our own existence, full of the promise of

some immediate knowledge and beauty everywhere.

Ron Price

8 June 1997

ONE ROSE AND ONE HYACINTH

This morning I read a poem by Charles Baudelaire(1821-1867) written some time during that fate-laden period after 1844. It was called Hymn to Beauty. Baudelaire's poetry exerted an unparalleled influence on modern poetry. This particular poem inspired me to look up the word 'beauty' on the Mars for Windows computer disc. There were over 350 references to beauty. This poem is a synthesis, a combination, a mixture, a bi-product, a wedding, a cross-fertilization, of perhaps forty of these references and Baudelaire's poem. -Ron Price, 11:00-2:00 pm Saturday, 23 May 1998: In Celebration of the Declaration of the Bab, 154 years ago today and the wondrous developments taking place now on Mt. Carmel as a result of the life of the Blessed Beauty, Baha'u'llah.

Do you come from some cord of creation,

some melody of eternity, O Beauty?

I see you in my solitude and cry to you

in my joy. I murmur your pleasure in my

grief and in my weariest moments you are

like a wine, quaffed from the clearest chalice.

Your eyes are brighter than the dawn and more

breathtaking than a glorious sunset. Your kisses,

which touch me all my days, are a drug that has

intoxicated my spirit and your mouth I can scarcely

imagine without swooning away. Fate, like a spaniel,

follows at your heel as you seem to sew haphazard

fortune, despair and a world of creative thoughts.

Your world, of such infinite Beauty, seems to attract

corpses and death, shame, murder, war, carnage,

the flame of dissension and the taste of honey mixed

with poison. Even the wick of your many-millioned

lovers and their loves which daily flutter, crackle and

cry, only gives them a taste of your paradise and hell,

your appalling Beauty which is revealed in your eyes,

your smile and your feet of steel, so subtlely precious

and so utterly mysterious.

 

I mirror forth your Beauty, wear your robes

at your wondrous fountain, knowing my thirsty

tongue shall one day be no more and the Sun

shall shine forever with its light of Beauty from

its Dawning-place of the Divine Presence.

I blush to lift up my face to your Beauty, to your

deathless tree behind its veil of concealment, where

the Beauty of the eternal sings with the melody of a

nightingale and a fragrance which goes deep as I pass

the Beauty of this Rose and the Hyacinth of this assembly.

Ron Price

23 May 1998

BAHA’U’LLAH

The early work of Australian poet, John Shaw Neilson, is undistinguished enough to give any aspiring poet hope.1 That is also true of Price’s work, as this poem among many of his juvenilia attest. -Ron Price with thanks to 1 H.J. Oliver in John Shaw Neilson: Poetry, Autobiography and Correspondence, editor, Cliff Hanna, University of Queensland Press, 1991, p.xxiv.

The puppets danced and bobbed.

A wedding feast so gay foretold

a life on strings of God to which

His life would play.

 

The seven wives did dance;

the concubines served tea,

with one brother and two sisters

left this Brother’s family.

 

His mother had thought them short

for a boy of seven, but father Buzurg

knew His mind was sent from heaven.

 

The dreams He’d had of birds and fish

when He was five or six had confirmed

His father’s views that He’d resist

the kicks of pricks. The learning of the

schools and books He was not inclined

to tend. The horse, the sword, the gun

tutored Him and the Holy Book as friend.

 

Such unparalleled exposition grew for a boy

of fourteen years, never assertive, always kind

His words were sweet and dear. His anger was

aroused when God’s Messengers were wronged.

His ire would rise and in defence His words were strong.

Ron Price

July 1991(ca)

________________ 

RADIANT AXIS OF BEAUTY

Pilgrimages must have begun to be made by Mankind whereever and whenever one single shrine came to surpass its neighbours in prestige to a degree that moved the regular local votaries of the neighbouring shrines to reinsure their claim on the good graces of the numina by paying occasional or periodical visits to the preeminent shrine as well.-Arnold Toynbee, A Study of History, 1963(1954), Vol. 9, p.97.

Haramayn, Jerusalem, Bodh Gaya,

Najaf, Karbila, Mecca, Medina----

cynosures of worlds apart through time.

Wu-T’ai Shan, Omei, too, gradually

accumulating mana, while Canterbury,

Walsingham, Kurasan, Lourdes, Lisieux

gave birth to shrine worlds on pilgrimage—

horizons, holy grounds like Nazareth or

Bethlehem, pristine sacredness, soul-resorts,

spurs to superhuman effort, to deft practitioners,

to protocols of piety, rehearsed petitioners,

who even now, as they enter that rare Presence

on this sacred mount, feast their eyes,

gathering memories for the time when they

must leave Carmel’s bony spine

and this radiant axis of beauty.

 

Amidst the sandy convolutions of this landscape

and its grainy, parched surface where hot winds

mutter apocalyptically a gleaming world arises.

Ron Price

26 December 1997

_________________________ 

SWEET NEW LIFE BORN OF BEAUTY

...a Revelation which, flowing out, in that extremely perilous hour, from His travailing soul, pierced the gloom which had settled upon that pestilential pit, and, bursting through its walls....infused into the entire body of mankind its boundless potentialities.-Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By(1957), p.93.

The last twenty-five years(1971-1996) have been jam-packed with massive quantities of communication, very successful much of the time, not so successful at others, extensive seed planting, but a meagreness of outward results, much joy and not a little despair. I have tried in this poem to capture this process within the context of perspectives gleaned from The Tablets of the Divine Plan and God Passes by. -Ron Price, 5 January 1996, 9:15 am.

Sharp and clean, right through,

heart to heart, man to man,

person to person, straight shooting,

we know where we stand, as much

as anyone knows this sort of thing

given that we are talking about human

communication. For a most wonderful

state of receptivity is being realized*.

I’ve seen it, experienced it at least since

the new horizon, bright with intimations

of thrilling developments** and then the

new paradigm of opportunity, the silver

lining and its dazzling prospects.***

 

We tried to be heavenly armies, freed from

the human world, divine angels, with that

trumpet, that Israfil of life, blowing the breath

of life but we got trapped by the defects of nature

and the promptings of the human world and could

not conquer nor array that innerlife and private

character with the fresh leaves, the fruits and

the blossoms of that consecrated joy.

 

Ideal forces and lordly confirmations

did come to our aid and it may be that

we will be crowned with brilliant jewels

which may irradiate upon centuries and

cycles.(4) But there was so much to which

we did not attain; we burned out several

times trying, trying on this often dry earth.

 

But, thanks to him, vision now has form

up on that mountain side and all that work

going back those decades has been revitalized.

It is as if that maiden who spoke to Him in the

depths of the Siyah Chal was giving us, too,

a sweet new life born of beauty for our own

hour of extreme peril and its miasmal ooze.

Ron Price

5 January 1996

* ‘Abdu’l-Baha, Tablets of the Divine Plan(1977), p.41.

** Universal House of Justice, Ridvan, 1971.

*** Universal House of Justice, Ridvan, 1988, 1990.

(4) ‘Abdu’l-Baha, op. cit., p.48.

_________________________ 

LOST GENERATIONS

In The Sun Also Rises(1926) Christianity is no longer part of the inner lives of people. A small core of the North American population by 1926 had found a new basis for community in the teachings of Baha'u'llah, but it was not until the 1960s that the numbers in this core became anything more than miniscule. In 1960 there were still under 1000 Baha'is in Canada and only several hundred in Australia. When I began my pioneer life in 1962 the Baha'i community had been expanding significantly in many places in the world for a decade. Many people found a new dynamic, a new basis for community, in the Baha'i teachings, but the work was slow and arduous. -Ron Price, an attempt to place the origin and growth of this new Order in the perspective of his own life.

Just as you1 were bringing that Order

into its first form the world, the world

which got His Tablets,2 was getting turned

upside down by cars that took people away

and away, planes that took them up and away

and radios that took their old world away

as did urbanization which made it difficult

to know who your neighbour was in cities

of thousands and anomie spread to every root

and branch and they rushed into a new age

with a new poetry, a new music and a new

beauty—and more sound and words written

than ever before--and the cars and planes got

faster and the lost generation of the Twenties

was lost again in the Sixties as they3 brought

that Order further into view--and the spiritual

malaise got deeper and that was really what

you had to fight in the third war which never

came as the old community died and this new

one was slowly, unobtrusively born.

 

But it was no garden party either.

You had to give it all, at least sometimes,

to keep the spark of belief from dieing out,

being asphyxiated, in a tempest of incredible

complexity, speed and unpredictability.

1 Shoghi Effendi

2 'Abdu'l-Baha's document, foundation, for the spread of His father's teachings(1916-17)

3 Universal House of Justice

___________________ 

Ron Price

March 9, 1996.

NEW FLIGHTS

Autobiographical is a name invented by Robert Southey(1774-1843) for the narration of one's life. -Anne Ferry, The "Inward" Language: Sonnets of Wyatt, Sidney, Shakespeare, Donne, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1983, p.10.

Introspection was not used to mean examination of one's thoughts until 1695. -ibid., p.46.

By the time the Bab and Baha'u'llah wrote their profoundly introspective works some two and a half centuries of literature, poetic and otherwise, had been focusing on the inner life and private character of human beings. A radical distinction between our inner and outer life had been increasingly defined and described. It was this inner life that Shoghi Effendi said must manifest the truths of this new Revelation. This inner illumination was what would secure the triumph of this new Cause. -Ron Price, Pioneering Over Three Epochs, March 23, 1996, 11 am Saturday.

I write these verses, songs of praise;

they seem the best that I can raise.

I tire now of other forms, of acts

that I do for Thee like tired facts.

 

I go to Feasts, read what They say

and I to Thee do fly, but one day

I'll do far more than this; with blissful

joy I'll take on some great new fistful.

 

After what seems like a billion words

from a thousand conversations--birds

of life don't fly as high as they once did;

they often seem a little thin, can’t get off

the ground. New flights more sweet exist

in these latter years and they are all within.

Ron Price

23 March 1996

AT LAST CONVERGING

Literature dwindles to a mere chronicle of circumstances, or passionless fantasies and passionless meditation, unless it is constantly flooded with the passion and beliefs of the past and, of all the fountains of passion and beliefs of the past, Baha'i history has again and again brought the vivifying spirit of excess into a Baha'i consciousness in the arts. The history of the Bab and Baha'u'llah, the seemingly endless martyrs, the life story of 'Abdu'l-Baha and Shoghi Effendi and the accounts of many of the great teachers now over several epochs, are slowly creating a new literature and changing the very roots of people's emotions by the influence of this long history, its sense of oneness and the metaphorical nature of its physical reality. -Ron Price with thanks to W.B. Yeats, Source Unknown, 23 March 1996.

Most of life takes all that I am,

its many roles and stages;

the candle of my days burns low

while I strut and fret between the pages.

 

There is within this tempered sword

which I use to carve these lines

and wield it daily for this work

a quiet, gentle sense of eternal times.

 

The past collapses into these moments

and I create a world of leaves which hangs

upon my boughs, leaves quite green and shiney,

yellow, few, some with quite distinct tangs.

 

These verses are no crown, or banquet;

they are not part of a dance or play.

They aren't meant for entertainment,

not part of a song, renoun, or suit today.

 

I feel as if something great is emerging

far beyond these lines from my own mind.

A civilization is at last converging

with this adventure that I slowly unwind.

Ron Price

23 March 1996

A GENERATIVE MATRIX

Baha'u'llah's Writings, indeed the works of all the Central Figures of this Faith, as well as those of the Guardian and the Universal House of Justice, represent a powerful literary institution of self-reflection slowly becoming embodied in the central cultural practices and ideological milieux of an emerging global civilization, a civilization still in its infancy and barely visible in a model of community that has just stuck its head above the ground. This vast corpus of print will one day come to saturate humanity's social life with imagery and self-representation as the Homeric epic came to saturate classical Greece.

The miracle of Greece, the Hellenic spirit, found its origins, its source, in Homer's Iliad and Odyssey. The miracle of this new Order, now just in its embryonic form, its nucleic spread, finds its origins in the Twin-Manifestations of the nineteenth century, the Bab and Baha'u'llah. -Ron Price with thanks to Barry Sandywell, The Beginnings of European Theorizing: Reflexivity in the Archaic Age: Logological Investigations Vol.2, Routledge, NY, 1996, p. 50.

We codified our sense of identity,

idealized vocabularies of conduct

in the generative matrix of a Prophet's

art, a unique enterprise, effectively

inaugurating a global act that would

translate a spiritual kingdom into a

physical form, begin a new type of

communicative institution, at the

beginning and end of civilization,

a brilliant supernovum of a collapsing

galaxy, history's supreme monument

of Revelation writing, of jewel-like

emanations and effusions from an

indefatigable pen, God's artistry.

Ron Price

13 December 1997

AN IMMORTAL GATE

There was a power and fire in Brahms' compositions by the 1850s. Perhaps this fire was kindled from the same source that kindled Mirza Aqa Jan when he describes the affect of Baha'u'llah walking towards him on the roof of a house in summer in Karbila.(God Passes By, p.116): "...with every step He took and every word He uttered thousands of oceans of light surged before my face, and thousands of worlds of incomparable splendor were unveiled to my eyes..."

A wondrous sound he heard

during Your days, like some

music of the spheres, thousands

of suns blazing their light, like a

mountain ring, a horn, like his girls

who sang. He suffered long and in

his generosity he found Your gifts

and Your sound revolutionizing his

world.2 He found some immortal gate

to paradise where he hoped to go and

dwell with his sweet Clara forever, far

from this darksome, narrow world,

immersed in that land of lights free

of earthly bonds, floating, fulfilled...

at last.

1 Johannes Brahms(1833-1897), great German composer.

2The process whereby the potency of the twin-revelations of the Bab and Baha'u'llah had, by the 1850s, begun to exercise its transforming affect on the planet was mysterious; although "(t)he process whereby its unsuspected benefits were to be manifest to the eyes of men was slow, painfully slow, and was characterized....by a number of crises which at times threatened to arrest its development and blast all the hopes which its progress had engendered. -Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p.111.

Ron Price

November 30, 1997.

_____________________ 

A SENSE OF DESTINY

 

Catherine Anne Porter in her Notes on a Criticism published in 19401 wrote that Thomas Hardy believed "that neither act, nor will, nor intention will serve to deflect a man's destiny from him, once he has taken the step which decides it." In attempting to apply this thought of Hardy's to my own life, it seems to me there have been many steps which, collectively, have decided my destiny: joining the Baha'i Faith(1959); moving away from my home town and my mother(1966); coming to Australia(1971); marrying first Judy and then Chris(1967 and 1975, respectively); teaching in various places(1967 to 1999); and starting to write poetry seriously in 1992. These are certainly highlights, but there are also other factors, other steps, involved in determining this 'destiny.' The poem below tries to deal with what seems to me to be a complex issue with so much that is provisional, uncertain and dependent on those Brides of inner meaning.2 -Ron Price with thanks to 1"Notes on Thomas Hardy," Internet, 4 January 2002; and 2 Baha'u'llah, The Book of Certitude, p.175.

This sense of destiny did not begin

to materialize in my mind with any force

until the end of my young adulthood,

at least two decades into pioneering

and, having begun, it has been slowly

evolving in these my middle years1

connected as it is with the mystic world

at the very centre and ground of my being,

where archaic mysteries have been restored

before my eyes with a revitalizing spiritual

energy released and wafted over all creation.2

 

I certainly see myself, now, after six decades

of life, as the inheritor, potential bearer and

promoter of historical forces struggling for

emergence, consciousness, fulfilment and

communication, part of: the greatest drama

in the world's spiritual history in which I arise

resolutely and unreservedly to play my part;3

yes, indeed, in this strange eventful history

which seems like a vapour in the desert.4

1 young adulthood: 20-40; middle adulthood: 40-60.

2 This idea comes from (i) the opening lines of the Tablet of Carmel and (ii) an article in World Order(Summer 1983) on the poetry of Robert Hayden.

3 Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Baha'u'llah, p.26.

4 Shakespeare, As You Like It; and Baha'u'llah, Writings.

Ron Price

5 January 2002

LIVING THE LIFE

I think it was in the late 1960s, perhaps the early 1970s, that I first heard Williams Sears, Bob Quigley and some of the Baha'i friends in California on a cassette tape. The subject was "living the life," a study class on teaching the Cause. I again heard the tape in October 2003, this time on a CD sent to Baha'is in Australia by the National Assembly. I remember my general reaction to Bill Sears and company in an Australian context just after I first arrived here. He and the whole modus operandi of the tape seemed "too American" to go down well. This time, thirty years later, the content and style of the material seemed quite fitting. Indeed, it seemed spot on.-Ron Price, Pioneering Over Four Epochs, October 8th, 2003.

Did I hear your honesty back then, Bill?

Your little band of men--and women—

said it so well. Explained why things

take time: the inner life and private

character however much they change

always seem to leave so much to be desired...

always so much perfecting needing to be done.

 

And my tranquil heart, so much more tranquil

than it ever was back then is still rocked by the

sea of life: inner life and private character

still has so far to go to mirror forth in their

manifold aspects those eternal truths

proclaimed by Baha'u'llah.1

1 Shoghi Effendi, Guidance for Today and Tomorrow, quoted on the CD: "Commemorative Service for the William Sears Prayer Pavilion."

Ron Price

October 8th 2003

A GLORIOUS EMERGENCE

1937 was a big year for Dizzy Gillespie. It was a big year for the Baha'i community. 1937 was the year that the formal and organized teaching Plans of the Baha'i community began. In 1937 Dizzy went to New York. It was here that he met Charlie Parker who also came to New York three years later in 1940. The Seven Year Plan, 1937-1944, saw a secret musical energy or fire develop in the jazz world, especially toward the end of the Plan when Charlie and Dizzy played together. It was all part of an exceptional moment in jazz and they called that moment--swing. It was full of innovation, experimentation, improvisation, heart and soul, a new artistic emotion. Dizzy represented the intellectual core of this new music. By 1942 a new phase, a second phase, in the history, the life of jazz, had begun. The first phase had lasted from 1917 to 1942 or so argued Ken Burns and the producers and directors of this new TV series on jazz. The following prose-poem, I should add in conclusion, draws on the words of Shoghi Effendi in the collection of his letters: 1932-1946. -Ron Price with thanks to ABC TV, "Jazz: Swinging With Change-Episode 7," September 21st, 2003, 5:00-6:00 pm.

It was one of the most brilliant episodes

in the history of the Formative Age.

The structural basis of the Administrative

Order had been firmly laid by these champion--

builders in the greatest collective enterprise

and the first half-century had ended.

 

It had been trumpeted in, this new phase,

by a new sound. It had been swung-in

heart and soul, a secret musical energy

or fire which, by 1942, saw the glorious

emergence of a firmly-welded incorruptible

Baha'i community, assuming its rightful place

at the forefront of the world-wide spiritual

army of Baha'u'llah.

Ron Price

22 September 2003

__________________________ 

A LOST GENERATION

The first talking picture premiered on Broadway in 1926, at the end of the first stage(1922-1926)1 of the evolution of American National Spiritual Assembly and in the middle of the first phase of Baha'i Administration.(1922-1929).2 Broadway reached an all-time peak in these years. In 1927 there were 268 plays in New York. In the 1970s there were only 50 to 60 plays in any year. During this phase the American Baha'is adopted the basic principles of Baha'i Administration which are still utilized today. F. Scott Fitzgerald, who dramatized the exuberance and many of the excesses of these years in his novels and his short stories, observed of this period that "it was an age of miracles, it was an age of art, it was an age of excess and it was an age of satire."2-Ron Price with thanks to 1Loni Bramson-Lerche, "Development of Baha'i Administration," Studies in Babi & Baha'i History, Vol.1, Kalimat Press, Los Angeles, 1982, p.260 and 2p.256; and 3F. Scott Fitzgerald in "The Literature of the Jazz Age," Larry Carlson, Internet, September 21st, 2003.

These were the first years of a conscious

following of Baha'i laws and teachings,

a national consciousness, organized

connections between National and Local

Assemblies sharpening, as it does now,

our perception of his1 unequaled

significance and accomplishments.

 

And during these years they fixed their

gaze upon the Order of Baha'u'llah,2

part of a grand design that prevented a

pandemonium of factions and allowed

Baha'i experience to fuse in that new

and unknown institution of the Guardian,3

offspring of His interpretive mind and

co-sharer in a unique genius of that divine

interpretation and explanation of meaning.

 

And all this in an age of miracles with its

new liberation, its exceptional literary

creativity, great works of the mind by

a 'Lost Generation.'4

1 Shoghi Effendi described by Glenford Mitchell in "The Literature of Interpretation," World Order, Winter 1972-3, p.13.

2 The Bab quoted in The World Order of Baha'u'llah, Shoghi Effendi, Wilmette, 1955, pp.146-7. 3 G. Mitchell, op.cit., p.15. 4Term coined by Gertrude Stein.

-Ron Price,21 Sept. 2003.

__________________________ 

BOOKENDS

I would call these decades 1917 to 1937 bookends, if you like, because between these marking years, these demarcation points, the student will find so much that defines the Baha'i community as an international group, a people, a philosophy and a faith. A great sense of expectation, of millenarianism, types of mild and extreme apocalypicism, Baha'i beliefs for the most part ignored, unacceptable or just arousing indifference within western sensibilities, a strong encouragement to teach, people with stories of long searches and finding this new faith, tensions in the community from varied sources; a non-sectarian, non-denominational, inclusive movement centered around the teachings of the Bab, Baha'u'llah, 'Abdu'l-Baha and Shoghi Effendi, a predominant image of liberalism with an absolute authority structure requiring obedience and, hence, generating some of that tension and, finally among a long list of features, an emphasis on good deeds, good works and a strong sense of morality. At the same time in the outside, the wider, community, a pessimistic hedonism and a growing despair, an inclination to extremes of democracy, liberal and conservative and, inevitably, total disillusionment and indifference.-Ron Price with thanks to Peter Smith, "American Baha'i Community," Studies in Babi & Baha'i History: Vol.1, Moojan Momen, editor, Kalimat Press, Los Angeles, 1982, pp. 135-194.

The magnitude of the ruin had just begun

as that first bookend was put in place,

a catelogue of horrors darker than the

darkest of ages past: the most turbulent

tempest had begun to blow. But hope

sprang eternal as it always does, some

fortuitous conjunction of circumstances,

it was thought, would make it possible

to bend the conditions of human life into

conformity with prevailing human desires

at this great turning point, this climacteric.1

1 Century of Light, Universal House of Justice, Forward.

Ron Price

21 September 2003

____________________ 

NAVIGATION

Just as Homer's Odysseus is compelled to navigate his way through all kinds of contrary forces in that classical western epic, so, too, is Baha'u'llah compelled by the forces of fate and circumstance to navigate His way through tides of misery, abasement and of overflowing tribulations1 in His spiritual journey. So, too, must we battle on without being able to view the whole scheme or itinerary. For ours, like theirs, is a partial vision and this poetic narrative that I have constructed is articulated on this basis and the irreducibility of life's continuous movement.2 Life's hell, for them and for us, "can be overcome only in the restoration and elucidation of the world in a system of law and fixed positionality."3 -Ron Price with thanks to 1Shoghi Effendi, God Passes by, 1957, p. 191 and 2&3Alan Durant, Ezra Pound: Identity in Crisis, the Harvester Press Ltd., Brighton, 1981, p.47.

I'd say that who someone is can be known

because we all live together and depend on

each other to tell our story from birth to death,

to define the 'who I am.' There is no flattening

out of uniqueness here, but there is mystery

and intangibility; there is intelligibility through

language and being a subject, through narration

of my life-story, in a life-span, a structure,

an uncontrollable narrative impulse of memory.

 

But I am not just a story; I'm not reducible to

contents; this is not my identity, interwoven as

it is with story which belongs to me alone,

uniquely me in intercourse and isolation,

narratable, unstable, insubstantial, fragmented,

disjointed, striving, desiring, a unity of form

that manifests itself in this complex relation

between my life and my story.1

1 Thanks to Paul Kottman, "Introduction," Relating narratives: Storytelling and Selfhood, Routledge, London, 2000, pp.vii-xxiii.

Ron Price

July 31, 2003

________________ 

ENERGIZE

This evening I watched as Hollywood's academy award winners paraded onto my TV screen. I am not sufficiently interested in the content or the process of this four hour program to watch for the entire sequence of time, but in the half hour I did watch I saw award winners going back to 1936. The film industry, beginning in the ministry of 'Abdu'l-Baha, has brought an immense amount of pleasure, entertainment, stimulation, understanding and insight to millions, nay, billions of people around the planet. Of course, films got in forty, perhaps, fifty years, before TV and, together, these two mediums have enriched the lives of people all around the world. I think it more than coincidental that all of this has coincided with the release of Baha'u'llah from the restrictions of His earthly life. The radiance of His soul was no longer beclouded by His human temple. His "soul could henceforth energize the whole world to a degree unapproached at any stage in the course of its existence on this planet."1 -Ron Price with thanks to WIN TV, "75th Academy Awards," 7:30-11:30 pm, 24 March 2003 and 1Shoghi Effendi, God Passes by, Wilmette, 1957, p.244.

 

He had done His job

and the light spread

all across the planet:

in windows, streets,

screens and rooms,

a new radiance,

a dazzling brightness,

a glow, an illumination

of the very fringes of earth.

 

It was a light baptized in fire,

made an ash of civilization's

foundations and sent us through

a grievous ordeal which has left

traces on the hearts of an age

and given it a new darkness.

 

And so: light and darkness

fill our lives now with pleasure

and pain and while we are

entertained the wars, the terror,

the cares and the afflictions

bewilder and confuse humanity.

 

And we slowly learn while we watch

that lighted and chirping box that all

humanity is now our concern.1

1 This is a revolutionizing principle. The Universal House of Justice, May 24,2001.

-Ron Price 24 March 2003

__________________________ 

THIS WILDERNESS

After nearly four years of 'retired' life away from the classroom, I have developed a system of classifying information for use in any 'serious' writing that I want to do. It is a system that can be changed, altered and expanded. Increasingly, in the last decade and especially since I ceased employment in 1999, a vast amount of material to read has appeared on the Internet. So much is this true that it provides a more relevant library for me than the public or academic libraries I used to use. In the last two days I have organized and filed many new articles on religion and the Baha'i Faith. One of the articles was a piece on Horace Holley and the following poem is based on that piece.

As I near the age of sixty I am increasingly in a well-organized position to write for the print and electronic media to obtain exposure for the Baha'i Cause as it comes out, more and more, of obscurity. I can draw on: history, sociology, psychology, anthropology, media studies, philosophy, writing, literature, religion, the Baha'i Faith, biography, autobiography, among other disciplines. Let it now be seen what writing unfolds in the years ahead. -Ron Price, Pioneering Over Four Epochs, 6 December 2002.

I saw today that Horace Holley

resigned from the NSA in '59

and he died a year later just

when my own story was beginning

its long haul. He certainly went the

distance: 1919 to 1959 which is as

long as anyone is expected to go:

forty years in this wilderness1

as the foundation was laid for

an Administration that is the nucleus

of a new World Order.

 

I've had my forty years: 1962 to 2002

on the pioneering front and, if those

mysterious Dispensations of Providence

allow, I may get another forty: 2002 to 2042.

We shall see.

1 Baha'u'llah, "Long Obligatory Prayer," Baha'i Prayers, USA, 1985, p. 13.

Ron Price

6 December 2002

MAKING OUR LIVES SUBLIME

About 400 million years ago various amphibians moved onto the land for the first time. If someone had chanced by and stepped on them the evolutionary process would have been quite a different story. So is this true of our own species. If we were to be snuffed out in these days of what often seems like our apocalyptic late adolescence, the story 400 million years from now would inevitably be a different one. I was reminded of this idea while reading the introduction to Thomas Carlyle Selected Writings (Penguin, Ringwood, 1971, p.15). The editor Alan Shelston wrote that Carlyle had a passionate belief in "the uniqueness of the individual experience set against the eternal and limitless perspectives of Time and Space." Carlyle saw human beings as "the miracle of miracles-the great inscrutable mystery of God."1 -Ron Price with thanks to Thomas Carlyle, Selected Writings, p.15.

In these last days of spring

before a Tasmanian summer

I am reminded that we are

God's mystery and He is ours1

with the conflux of two eternities

beckoning from the remotest

past and some awesome future.

 

Yes, time and space, wide and fair,

is our estate. You2 were right, though,

there was something special about your

time, your century, and which you conveyed

in your special writing and which He conveyed

in His from prison and exile.

 

The ultimate inspirational hero had appeared,

little did you know, to be the apotheosis of

the revelation in the world, the agent of Divine

Purpose: time, definitely shaped, inevitable,

predetermined, waiting and unseen--to remind

us that we can make our lives sublime.

1 Baha'u'llah, Gleanings, p.177.

2 Thomas Carlyle

Ron Price

24 November 2002

_______________________ 

From time to time during each and every day of my life, at least that part of my life since I went pioneering in 1962, pieces, scraps, phrases, of the Baha'i writings or some aspect of the Baha'i teachings, history and philosophy come into my head. Persistently, irrepressibly, the opening lines of a prayer, some aspect of the life of Baha'u'llah or the Guardian, random bytes of recollection from this wondrous System come into my mind. A core of these memories, retrospections, reminiscences, had become part of my life as early as the age of eighteen, in 1962, after nine years of increasing familiarity with this Cause. Now, nearly fifty years from those earliest experiences, that first contact with the Baha'i Faith in 1953, they are part of a world of repetition and familiarity, a place of sharper recollections and comprehensions; they keep me company. My feeble intelligence or memory, often forgets a familiar prayer. My copy of Gleanings which old Helen McQuarrie gave our family on some unknown date in the 1950s, even the prayer-book I gave away to the first Eskimo to become a Baha'i in the Eastern Arctic in 1968--these are part of a field of embedded data that compose my most intimate self-the bedrock, as it were, beneath my more or less acceptable social, sexual and everyday self that I have been socialized into during my life. -Ron Price with thanks to John Updike, Self-Consciousness: Memoirs, Andre Deutsch, London, 1989, p.203.

Those impressions

before the age of three,

back in that first epoch,

play their part all my days,

flavouring my life forever.

 

That old man in the evening

of his life, white hair, pipe,

brandy and books, endless books.

 

That beautiful woman

at the start of middle age,

playing the piano,

as religious as her mother.

 

That ball of energy,

hair receding, slender,

muscular, able to keep

his wife satisfied in bed.

 

Such was my world,

at least some of it

back at the start

of the second century:

100, 101 and 102 BE.

Ron Price

14 July 2001

------------------------- 

THE MANUFACTURE OF WANTING

 

The Baha'i Faith in North America expanded and consolidated in an advertising age. By the 1890s when the first Baha'is taught in Illinois, advertising had been part of the American way of life for thirty years, since at least the Civil War: 1861-1865. The approach of Christian evangelists, with their emphasis on redemption and the experience of grace, was transferred subtly and not-so-subtlety to the advertising world and its method of sale of patent medicines in the 1870s and 1880s. In the first three decades that the Baha'i Faith expanded in the USA, 1894 to 1924, the population of the USA expanded by twenty-five percent each year. This population was exposed to the magical promises and the philosophy of modern advertising.

 

By the time the first teaching Plan began in 1937 the golden age of radio had arrived and advertising found a new home in this medium. The same was true of TV where, after WW2, television brought advertising's pictures right into people's homes. In the late 1950s and 1960s advertising moved away from a conformist, sclerotic, mode, some would say military style and tone, to a reliance on the techniques of surprise, cleverness and creativity. The year I became a Baha'i, for example, in 1959, the Volkswagon Company developed an advertising campaign based around 'The Bug.' -Ron Price with thanks to ABC Radio National, "A History of Advertising," 1:00-2:00 pm, 2 August 2001.

 

Was He trying to block the air-waves,

trying to fog-up their oral/visual worlds,

trying to make it as difficult as possible

for them to get at all near, even close to,

this Most Great Ocean?

An increasingly dark incoherence

spoke across the American landscape,

advertising's endless jingle-jangle

told them again and again

the source of their current disturbances

could be found in the lack

of an equal distribution of wealth

and of indoor plumbing.

 

Was He simply giving them

ways of learning about

this Great River of Life:

millions of papers,

sounds floating through the air,

pictures right in their noses?

Yes, yes, but what a jungle

of sensation and triviality,

evanescence and idiocy:

the manufacture of wanting

everything but the Voice of Him

Who is the most manifest of the manifest

and the most hidden of the hidden.1

 

1 Baha'u'llah, Baha'i Prayers, USA, 1985, p.143.

 

Ron Price 2 August 2001

LASTING MEMORY

29 May 1992 was the solemn, historic occasion of the centenary of the ascension of Baha'u'llah. For the lovers of Marlene Dietrich there was also a certain solemnity in the air. She had been buried in Berlin just two weeks before. One of the greatest female stars of all time, Marlene Dietrich had died at the age of 90. She had begun her film career in 1923 at the start of the formal establishment of the Baha'i Administrative Order, at the opening of the first epoch(1921-1944) of its Formative Age and the first year of the formation of National Spiritual Assemblies in the Bahá’í world, the first being in Germany in that same year, 1923.

 

At the start of the formal teaching Plan, during the year of discussions preceding the inauguration of that Plan and the beginning of the first epoch of 'Abdu'l-Baha's divine plan in April 1937 Dietrich became an American citizen, in March 1937. While working on a film in London later that year, Marlene, a German by birth, was invited by the Nazis to support their work, but she turned them down. She cultivated, all her life--at least until her final 12 years(1980-1992)--an aura of perfection and glamour. She was an icon and possessed an idealized image in, and for, society's imagination. This image was her creation, her persona; but it was not her. -Ron Price with thanks to "Living Famously: Marlene Dietrich," ABC TV, 10:55-11:50 p.m. 24 December 2006.

…or was this image--her?

Was this what kept her

a recluse in Paris in her

apartment years before

her death, wanting this

image, this beauty, to be

the only lasting memory--

a natural result, perhaps,

of her view that:

 

"When you're dead,

you're dead. That's it."

 

She missed the Holy Year,

that tribute to a life beyond,

infinitely beyond, compare,

a life Whose prophetic career

was framed by superlatives

and Who drew His last breath

on earth back one hundred

years before inaugurating a

5000 century Bahá’í cycle.

She missed that Year by

a hair's breadth after her

lifetime of 90 years, on

the threshold of that Year

just begun: she died then

at what was a remarkably

dynamic period with its

amplified potential, with

its onrushing, quickening

wind blowing, a mysterious,

rampant force. And for us…

a rendezvous for our soul

with the Source of its light

in His retreat of revivifying

and deathless splendour.2

 

"'Cause when you're dead

your life has just begun. That's it!"

1 Marlene Dietrich died on 6 May 1992 and the Bahá’í Holy Year began on 29 May 1992.

2The Universal House of Justice, Ridvan message, April 1992.

Ron Price

25 December 2006.

THAT WINGED AND SACRED THING

When Guillaume Apollinaire impulsively removed all the punctuation from the prepublication galleys of his first book Alcools in 1912, he broke down the compartments of grammar in ways that would affect the poetry of the century that followed. This was the year that 'Abdu'l-Baha made His historic western tour, a tour which Shoghi Effendi called the most heroic service in the first century of Bahá’í history.

In a book published five years later, Apollinaire positioned poetic fragments in spatial patterns on the page; he proved that white space and irregularity could be part of a poem's structural composition. The poetics that grew from these technical innovations have been variously described as modernist, as the "poetics of surprise," as "open field" poetry, poetic montage, as "indeterminate," as "reader-centered." The poetics of juxtaposition, fragment and collage have been practiced throughout the twentieth century, sometimes centrally, sometimes peripherally. Many would say collage is the central artistic device of modernism, and its foremost contribution to twentieth-century art. And in our own time, the mode—fragment and collage—is experiencing a conspicuous renaissance. Certainly my own prose-poetry seems, as I look back over some 6000 poems, a series of fragments, one vast collage, one endless series of juxtapositions.

The poet Jorge Luis Borges wrote that Apollinaire was the "winged and sacred thing" of Platonic dialogue; he was a man of elemental and, therefore, eternal feelings; he was, when the fundaments of earth and sky shook, the poet of ancient courage and ancient honor."1 I think I would add that 'Abdu'l-Baha was yet another "winged and sacred thing." -Ron Price with thanks to Jorge Luis Borges in The Total Library, 1999.

A winged and sacred thing

He was in the evening of life

and a new world did begin,

Virginia, on or about 1910

in December,1 as you said,

little did you know, as He

arose with sublime courage

to consecrate His fast ebbing

strength to a service of such

heroic proportions as to find

no parallel in the first Bahá’í

century---and it unleashed

an energy that transformed the

world , established the Faith

of Baha'u'llah in the Western

Hemisphere and set in motion

tremendous creative forces for

other winged and sacred things.

 

1 Virginia Woolf expressed the view that human character changed "in or about December 1910." It was a moment which brought together all the younger painters in England into a sort of mass movement. They agreed that something had happened that they must cope with."-Quoted

in "To the Lighthouse and Beyond: A Virginia Woolf and Bloomsbury Trail," Heidi Dore, Trails, 22 November 2006.

Ron Price 22 November 2006

HOISTING AND USHERING

On 8 October 1952 Shoghi Effendi sent the following telegram to the Baha’is of the world. It was the telegram that launched the Ten Year Crusade—1953 to 1963: "Feel hour propitious to proclaim to the entire Baha'i world the projected launching ... the fate-laden, soul-stirring, decade-long, world-embracing Spiritual Crusade involving .... the concerted participation of all National Spiritual Assemblies of the Baha'i world aiming at the immediate extension of Baha'u'llah's spiritual dominion ... in all remaining Sovereign States, Principal Dependencies comprising Principalities, Sultanates, Emirates, Sheikhdoms, Protectorates, Trust Territories, and Crown Colonies scattered over the surface of the entire planet. The entire body of the avowed supporters of Baha'u'llah's all-conquering Faith are now summoned to achieve in a single decade feats eclipsing in totality the achievements which in the course of the eleven preceding decades illuminated the annals of Baha'i pioneering." –Ron Price with thanks to Shoghi Effendi, Messages to the Baha'i World, 1950-1957, Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1995, Wilmette, p. 41.

 

The two month period

associated with the 100th

anniversary of the birth

of this new Revelation

in the Siyah-Chal was

about to begin--ushering

in a Holy Year while I

was in grade three in a

little town in Canada.

The world of medical science

was getting ready for the Salk

vaccine’s unprecedented trial,

the experiment of 1954-1955,

the largest such event in the

history of medicine.1

 

Just then, in that very month,2

Shoghi Effendi announced that

one hundred virgin territories of

the globe had witnessed the hoisting

of the banner of a new Faith--Cause

of Baha’u’llah and the sublime mission

of the spiritual conquest of half the planet.2

1 Launched 26 April 1954 with thanks to SBS TV, Tuesday 24, June 2008, 8.30-9:30 p.m.: "Medical Mavericks: Discovering Vaccines-The History Of Self-Experimentation."

2 Shoghi Effendi, Messages to the Baha’i World: 1950-57, Wilmette, 1958, p. 60.

-Ron Price

25 June 2008

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