Unity of the East and West
History of Master’s Life
Unity of the East and West
Source: ‘Abdul-Baha Talks to Kate Carew of Things Spiritual and Mundane –
New York Tribune, 1912-05-05
Oriental Who Would Break Down Sectarian Lines And Unite Mankind Under a Single Simple Religious Creed Finds in the Power of the Spirit an Answer to All Worldly Problems
What do you expect? What you don’t expect! I found myself repeating this formula of the fortune teller, facing her pack of cards, as I entered the corridor of the Hotel Ansonia on my way to interview the Persian teacher, ‘Abdu’l-Baha, leader of the Bahaites.
What I expected to find was the apostle of peace, the advocate of the simple life and the universal brotherhood of man in some quiet, unobtrusive sort of place, a little apart from the madding crowd, where solitude and reflection might be his for the asking.
The Hotel Ansonia, situated at one of the traffic centres, 72[n]d street and Broadway, …I said to myself: “Well, of all the places to find the Master.”
What I didn’t expect.
…He is scarcely above medium height, but so extraordinary in the dignity of majestic carriage that he seemed more than the average stature.
He wore, over biscuit colored velveteen trousers girdled with white, a long, full robe of grayish wool. The Panama fez was wound with white folds.
…The Baha repeated a statement he had made that day to the students of Columbia University.
“The great need of this country is the spiritual philosophy, the philosophy of the language of God. Every one wants to find scientific truths, but we should seek the scientific truths of the spirit as well.
“Natural philosophy is like a very beautiful physical body, but the spiritual philosophy is the soul of that body. If this body unites with the spirit, then we have the highest perfect society.
“What God gives us in this world is for a time, our body is for a time, our millions of dollars are for a time, our houses, our automobiles, the same. But the spiritual gifts of God are forever. The greatness of this world will come to an end, but the greatness of the spiritual world is eternal.
“Read history. See how emperors and kings came and went. Nothing is left. The kingdom of the world passes; the kingdom of God will endure.”
Several questions were asked. A socialist looking person inquired:
“Do you believe in dividing property and everything?”
“You may bring all the physical powers of the earth, you may bring all the natural powers of the earth, and try by their means to make a union where all will love each other, where all will have peace—but such means will end in failure. But look how the spiritual power has brought us all together and makes us love each other. This meeting has been brought about by spiritual means. You have come because the spiritual power led you.”
“Will the East and West ever be united?”
The Baha answered immediately:
“It would be impossible by the natural forces only, but that union between the East and the West, of love between the people here and there, will come through the spiritual power. [Siyyid ‘Ali-Muhammad known as the Bab], the founder of the [Babi] faith, said that if he could spend all the cash of the universe to bring love among mankind it would result in failure, but with the spiritual power he succeeded in making the people of the East and the people of the West love each other. You coming here tonight proves this. It is a gift of God.”
Some one interrogated him concerning the mission of the theatre.
He was much agitated at this question, and the young Turk explained:
“The Master says that he went to the theatre to-day where they show how Christ was crucified (“The Terrible Meek”). He saw the acts. He wept. It is more than one thousand nine hundred years since that time. He was unable to help him. Yes, he wept, and not only he, but many others wept, too.”
I can imagine repeating his phrases to some of my clever friends, who would be sure to say:
“Why, that’s as old as the hills. I don’t see anything to make a fuss about in that.”
But the time honored words, even repeated by an interpreter, are so fraught with the Baha’s wonderful personality that they seem never to have been uttered before. His meaning is not couched in any esoteric phrases. Again and again he has disclaimed the possession of hidden lore. Again and again he has placed the attainments of the heart and soul above those of the mind.