The Seven Valleys And the Four Valleys

  • Author:
  • Bahá’u’lláh

  • Source:
  • US Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1991 pocket-size edition
  • Pages:
  • 65
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Pages 36-43

The Valley of True Poverty and Absolute Nothingness

This station is the dying from self and the living in God, the being poor in self and rich in the Desired One. Poverty as here referred to signifieth being poor in the things of the created world, rich in the things of God’s world. For when the true lover and devoted friend reacheth to the presence of the Beloved, the sparkling beauty of the Loved One and the fire of the lover’s heart will kindle a blaze and burn away all veils and wrappings. Yea, all he hath, from heart to skin, will be set aflame, so that nothing will remain save the Friend.
When the qualities of the Ancient of Days stood revealed,
Then the qualities of earthly things did Moses burn away. 1
He who hath attained this station is sanctified from all that pertaineth to the world. Wherefore, if those who have come to the sea of His presence are found to possess none of the limited things of this perishable world, whether it be outer wealth or personal opinions, it mattereth not. For whatever the creatures have is limited by their own limits, and whatever the 37 True One hath is sanctified therefrom; this utterance must be deeply pondered that its purport may be clear. “Verily the righteous shall drink of a winecup tempered at the camphor fountain.” 2 If the interpretation of “camphor” become known, the true intention will be evident. This state is that poverty of which it is said, “Poverty is My glory.” 3 And of inward and outward poverty there is many a stage and many a meaning which I have not thought pertinent to mention here; hence I have reserved these for another time, dependent on what God may desire and fate may seal.
This is the plane whereon the vestiges of all things (Kullu Shay’) are destroyed in the traveler, and on the horizon of eternity the Divine Face riseth out of the darkness, and the meaning of “All on the earth shall pass away, but the face of thy Lord….” 4 is made manifest.
O My friend, listen with heart and soul to the songs of the spirit, and treasure them as thine own eyes. For the heavenly wisdoms, like the clouds of spring, will not rain down on the earth of men’s hearts forever; and though the grace of the All-Bounteous One is never stilled and never ceasing, yet to each time and era a 38 portion is allotted and a bounty set apart, this in a given measure. “And no one thing is there, but with Us are its storehouses; and We send it not down but in settled measure.” 5 The cloud of the Loved One’s mercy raineth only on the garden of the spirit, and bestoweth this bounty only in the season of spring. The other seasons have no share in this greatest grace, and barren lands no portion of this favor.
O Brother! Not every sea hath pearls; not every branch will flower, nor will the nightingale sing thereon. Then, ere the nightingale of the mystic paradise repair to the garden of God, and the rays of the heavenly morning return to the Sun of Truth—make thou an effort, that haply in this dustheap of the mortal world thou mayest catch a fragrance from the everlasting garden, and live forever in the shadow of the peoples of this city. And when thou hast attained this highest station and come to this mightiest plane, then shalt thou gaze on the Beloved, and forget all else.
The Beloved shineth on gate and wall
Without a veil, O men of vision. 6
Now hast thou abandoned the drop of life and come to the sea of the Life-Bestower. 39 This is the goal thou didst ask for; if it be God’s will, thou wilt gain it.
In this city, even the veils of light are split asunder and vanish away. “His beauty hath no veiling save light, His face no covering save revelation.” 7 How strange that while the Beloved is visible as the sun, yet the heedless still hunt after tinsel and base metal. Yea, the intensity of His revelation hath covered Him, and the fullness of His shining forth hath hidden Him.
Even as the sun, bright hath He shined,
But alas, He hath come to the town of the blind! 8
In this Valley, the wayfarer leaveth behind him the stages of the “oneness of Being and Manifestation” 9 and reacheth a oneness that is sanctified above these two stations. Ecstasy alone can encompass this theme, not utterance nor argument; and whosoever hath dwelt at this stage of the journey, or caught a breath from this garden land, knoweth whereof We speak.
In all these journeys the traveler must stray 40 not the breadth of a hair from the “Law,” for this is indeed the secret of the “Path” and the fruit of the Tree of “Truth”; and in all these stages he must cling to the robe of obedience to the commandments, and hold fast to the cord of shunning all forbidden things, that he may be nourished from the cup of the Law and informed of the mysteries of Truth. 10
If any of the utterances of this Servant may not be comprehended, or may lead to perturbation, the same must be inquired of again, that no doubt may linger, and the meaning be clear as the Face of the Beloved One shining from the “Glorious Station.” 11
These journeys have no visible ending in the world of time, but the severed wayfarer—if invisible confirmation descend upon him and the Guardian of the Cause assist him—may cross these seven stages in seven steps, nay rather in seven breaths, nay rather in a single 41 breath, if God will and desire it. And this is of “His grace on such of His servants as He pleaseth.” 12
They who soar in the heaven of singleness and reach to the sea of the Absolute, reckon this city—which is the station of life in God—as the furthermost state of mystic knowers, and the farthest homeland of the lovers. But to this evanescent One of the mystic ocean, this station is the first gate of the heart’s citadel, that is, man’s first entrance to the city of the heart; and the heart is endowed with four stages, which would be recounted should a kindred soul be found.
When the pen set to picturing this station,
It broke in pieces and the page was torn. 13
Salám! 14
O My friend! Many a hound pursueth this gazelle of the desert of oneness; many a talon claweth at this thrush of the eternal garden. Pitiless ravens do lie in wait for this bird of the heavens of God, and the huntsman of envy stalketh this deer of the meadow of love.
O Shaykh! Make of thine effort a glass, perchance it may shelter this flame from the 42 contrary winds; albeit this light doth long to be kindled in the lamp of the Lord, and to shine in the globe of the spirit. For the head raised up in the love of God will certainly fall by the sword, and the life that is kindled with longing will surely be sacrificed, and the heart which remembereth the Loved One will surely brim with blood. How well is it said:
Live free of love, for its very peace is anguish;
Its beginning is pain, its end is death. 15
Peace be upon him who followeth the Right Path!
* * * * * *
The thoughts thou hast expressed as to the interpretation of the common species of bird that is called in Persian Gunjishk (sparrow) were considered. 16 Thou appearest to be well-grounded in mystic truth. However, on every plane, to every letter a meaning is allotted which relateth to that plane. Indeed, the wayfarer findeth a secret in every name, a mystery in every letter. In one sense, these letters refer to holiness.
Káf or Gáf (K or G) referreth to Kuffi 43 (“free”), that is, “Free thyself from that which thy passion desireth; then advance unto thy Lord.”
Nún referreth to Nazzih (“purify”), that is, “Purify thyself from all else save Him, that thou mayest surrender thy life in His love.”
Jím is Jánib (“draw back”), that is, “Draw back from the threshold of the True One if thou still possessest earthly attributes.”
Shín is Ushkúr (“thank”)—“Thank thy Lord on His earth that He may bless thee in His heaven; albeit in the world of oneness, this heaven is the same as His earth.”
Káf referreth to Kuffi, that is: “Take off from thyself the wrappings of limitations, that thou mayest come to know what thou hast not known of the states of Sanctity.” 17
Wert thou to harken to the melodies of this mortal Bird, 18 then wouldst thou seek out the undying chalice and pass by every perishable cup.
Peace be upon those who walk in the Right Path!
1. The Mathnaví.   [ Back To Reference]
2. Qur’án 76:5.   [ Back To Reference]
3. Muḥammad.   [ Back To Reference]
4. Qur’án 55:26, 27.   [ Back To Reference]
5. Qur’án 15:21.   [ Back To Reference]
6. Faríḍu’d-Dín Aṭṭár (ca. 1150–1230 A.D.), the great Persian Súfí poet.   [ Back To Reference]
7. Hadíth, i.e. action or utterance traditionally attributed to the Prophet Muḥammad or to one of the holy Imáms.   [ Back To Reference]
8. The Mathnaví.   [ Back To Reference]
9. Pantheism, a Súfí doctrine derived from the formula: “Only God exists; He is in all things, and all things are in Him.”   [ Back To Reference]
10. This refers to the three stages of Súfí life: 1. Sharí’at, or Religious Laws; 2. Taríqat, or the Path on which the mystic wayfarer journeys in search of the True One; this stage also includes anchoretism. 3. Haqíqat, or the Truth which, to the Súfí, is the goal of the journey through all three stages. Here Bahá’u’lláh teaches that, contrary to the belief of certain Súfís who in their search for the Truth consider themselves above all law, obedience to the Laws of Religion is essential.   [ Back To Reference]
11. Maqám-i-Mahmúd. Qur’án 17:81.   [ Back To Reference]
12. Qur’án 2:84.   [ Back To Reference]
13. Persian mystic poem.   [ Back To Reference]
14. “Peace.” This word is used in concluding a thesis.   [ Back To Reference]
15. Arabian poem.   [ Back To Reference]
16. The five letters comprising this word in Persian are: G, N, J, SH, K, that is, Gáf, Nún, Jím, Shín, Káf.   [ Back To Reference]
17. This and the foregoing quotations are from the teachings of Islám.   [ Back To Reference]
18. This is a reference in the traditional Persian style to Bahá’u’lláh Himself.   [ Back To Reference]