Ability to Reach An Audience

May 2, 2021
Ability to Reach An Audience


Ability to Reach An Audience

Source: ‘Abdu’l-Baha, In New York City, April 1912 p 65-65


Abdu’l Baha’s ability to reach an audience was demonstrated in the fifteen talks He gave during His first eleven days in New York. [On April 12] His talk began by emphasizing the spiritual atmosphere present in the gathering:

the light of the spirit shining in your faces brings me rest and reward. In this meeting the divine susceptibilities are radiant. This is a spiritual home, the home of the spirit. There is no discord here; all is love and unity.”

Abdu’l Baha connected His observation about the spiritual atmosphere to the “Divine Prophets” who “came to establish the unity of the Kingdom in human hearts.” He gave the example of Jesus Christ, whose goal also was “to establish the unity of the Kingdom in human hearts”…He continued:

“Only a few were attracted to Him. They were not the kings and rulers of His time. They were not rich and important people. Some of them were catchers of fish. Most of them were ignorant men, not trained in the knowledge of this world. One of the greatest of them, Peter, could not remember the days of the week. All of them were men of the least consequence in the eyes of the world. But their hearts were pure and attracted by the fires of the divine spirit manifested in Christ. With this small army Christ conquered the world of the east and the West. Kings and nations rose against Him. Philosophers and the greatest men of learning assailed and blasphemed His Cause. All were defeated and overcome, their tongues silenced, their lamps extinguished; no trace of them now remains. They have become as nonexistent, while His Kingdom is triumphant and eternal.”

Abdu’l Baha then brought the story up to the present by talking about the Bab and Baha’u’llah:

“Praise be to God! The light of unity and love is shining in these faces. These spiritual susceptibilities are the real fruits of heaven. The Bab and Baha’u’llah over sixty years ago proclaimed the glad tidings of universal peace… Baha’u’llah suffered forty years as a prisoner and exile in order that the Kingdom of love might be established in the East and West. He has made it possible for us to meet here in love and unity. Because He suffered imprisonment, we are free to proclaim the oneness of the world of humanity for which He stood so long and faithfully…Therefore, let your faces be more radiant with hope and heavenly determination to serve the Cause of God, to spread the pure fragrances of the divine rose garden of unity, to awaken spiritual susceptibilities in the hearts of mankind, to kindle anew the spirit of humanity with divine fires and to reflect the glory of heaven to this gloomy world of materialism. When you possess these divine susceptibilities, you will be able to awaken and develop them in others.”

[Abdu’l Baha’s] talk epitomizes a common pattern in His addresses to the public or to a mixed Baha’i and not Baha’i audience: start with a simple observation – an event in the newspapers, an introductory remark, even the weather – transition to a spiritual principle, relate that principle to Jesus and the Bible, connect the subject to Baha’u’llah, and close with an exhortation for His audience to internalize the principle and express it in their lives, thereby bringing the audience from the commonplace to Baha’u’llah and to a spiritual principle via their Christian heritage.

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