Selections From the Writings of `Abdu'l-Bahá
156: O thou servant of the Holy Threshold! We have ...
O thou servant of the Holy Threshold! We have read what flowed out from thy pen in thy love for God,
and found the contents of thy letter most pleasing. My hope
is that through the bounty of God, the breaths of the All-Merciful
will at all times refresh and renew thee.
Thou didst write of reincarnation. A belief in reincarnation
goeth far back into the ancient history of almost all
peoples, and was held even by the philosophers of Greece,
the Roman sages, the ancient Egyptians, and the great
Assyrians. Nevertheless such superstitions and sayings are
but absurdities in the sight of God.
The major argument of the reincarnationists was this,
that according to the justice of God, each must receive his
due: whenever a man is afflicted with some calamity, for
example, this is because of some wrong he hath committed.
But take a child that is still in its mother's womb, the
embryo but newly formed, and that child is blind, deaf,
lame, defective--what sin hath such a child committed, to
deserve its afflictions? They answer that, although to outward
seeming the child, still in the womb, is guilty of no
sin--nevertheless he perpetrated some wrong when in his
previous form, and thus he came to deserve his punishment.
These individuals, however, have overlooked the following
point. If creation went forward according to only one
rule, how could the all-encompassing Power make Itself
felt? How could the Almighty be the One Who `doeth as
He pleaseth and ordaineth as He willeth'?
Briefly, a return is indeed referred to in the Holy Scriptures,
but by this is meant the return of the qualities, conditions,
effects, perfections, and inner realities of the lights
which recur in every dispensation. The reference is not to
specific, individual souls and identities.
It may be said, for instance, that this lamplight is last
night's come back again, or that last year's rose hath returned
to the garden this year. Here the reference is not to
the individual reality, the fixed identity, the specialized
being of that other rose, rather doth it mean that the qualities,
the distinctive characteristics of that other light, that
other flower, are present now, in these. Those perfections,
that is, those graces and gifts of a former springtime are
back again this year. We say, for example, that this fruit is
the same as last year's; but we are thinking only of the
delicacy, bloom and freshness, and the sweet taste of it; for
it is obvious that that impregnable centre of reality, that
specific identity, can never return.
What peace, what ease and comfort did the Holy Ones
of God ever discover during Their sojourn in this nether
world, that They should continually seek to come back and
live this life again? Doth not a single turn at this anguish,
these afflictions, these calamities, these body blows, these
dire straits, suffice, that They should wish for repeated visits
to the life of this world? This cup was not so sweet that one
would care to drink of it a second time.
Therefore do the lovers of the Abhá Beauty wish for no
other recompense but to reach that station where they may
gaze upon Him in the Realm of Glory, and they walk no
other path save over desert sands of longing for those
exalted heights. They seek that ease and solace which will
abide forever, and those bestowals that are sanctified beyond
the understanding of the worldly mind.
When thou lookest about thee with a perceptive eye,
thou wilt note that on this dusty earth all humankind are
suffering. Here no man is at rest as a reward for what he
hath performed in former lives; nor is there anyone so
blissful as seemingly to pluck the fruit of bygone anguish.
And if a human life, with its spiritual being, were limited
to this earthly span, then what would be the harvest of
creation? Indeed, what would be the effects and the outcomes
of Divinity Itself? Were such a notion true, then all
created things, all contingent realities, and this whole
world of being--all would be meaningless. God forbid
that one should hold to such a fiction and gross error.
For just as the effects and the fruitage of the uterine life
are not to be found in that dark and narrow place, and only
when the child is transferred to this wide earth do the
benefits and uses of growth and development in that previous
world become revealed--so likewise reward and
punishment, heaven and hell, requital and retribution for
actions done in this present life, will stand revealed in that
other world beyond. And just as, if human life in the womb
were limited to that uterine world, existence there would
be nonsensical, irrelevant--so too if the life of this world,
the deeds here done and their fruitage, did not come forth
in the world beyond, the whole process would be irrational
Know then that the Lord God possesseth invisible realms
which the human intellect can never hope to fathom nor
the mind of man conceive. When once thou hast cleansed
the channel of thy spiritual sense from the pollution of this
worldly life, then wilt thou breathe in the sweet scents of
holiness that blow from the blissful bowers of that heavenly
The Glory rest upon thee, and upon whosoever turneth
toward and gazeth on the Kingdom of the All-Glorious,
which the Lord hath sanctified beyond the understanding of
those who are neglectful of Him, and hath hid from the
eyes of those who show Him pride.
1. [cf. Qur'án 3:35; 2:254]