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Bahá’u’lláh and the New Era

  • Author:
  • J. E. Esslemont

  • Source:
  • US Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1980 edition
  • Pages:
  • 286
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Pages 80-82

Courtesy and Reverence

Bahá’u’lláh says:—
O people of God! I exhort you to courtesy. Courtesy is indeed … the lord of all virtues. Blessed is he who is adorned with the mantle of Uprightness and illumined with the light of Courtesy. He who is endowed with Courtesy 81 (or Reverence) is endowed with a great station. It is hoped that this Wronged One, and all, will attain to it, hold unto it and observe it. This is the Irrefutable Command which hath flowed from the pen of the Greatest Name.—Tablet of the World.
Again and again He repeats:—“Let all the nations of the world consort with each other with joy and fragrance. Consort ye, O people, with the people of all religions with joy and fragrance.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá says in a letter to the Bahá’ís of America:—
Beware! Beware! Lest ye offend any heart!
Beware! Beware! Lest ye hurt any soul!
Beware! Beware! Lest ye deal unkindly toward any person!
Beware! Beware! Lest ye be the cause of hopelessness to any creature!

Should one become the cause of grief to any one heart, or of despondency to any one soul, it were better to hide oneself in the lowest depths of the earth than to walk upon the earth.
He teaches that as the flower is hidden in the bud, so a spirit from God dwells in the heart of every man, no matter how hard and unlovely his exterior. The true Bahá’í will treat every man, therefore, as the gardener tends a rare and beautiful plant. He knows that no impatient interference on his part can open the bud into a blossom; only God’s sunshine can do that, therefore his aim is to bring that life-giving sunshine into all darkened hearts and homes.
Again, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá says:—
Among the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh is one requiring man, under all conditions and circumstances, to be forgiving, to love his enemy and to consider an ill-wisher as a well-wisher. Not that one should consider another as an 82 enemy and then put up with him … and be forbearing toward him. This is hypocrisy and not real love. Nay, rather, you must see your enemies as friends, your ill-wishers as well-wishers and treat them accordingly. Your love and kindness must be real … not merely forbearance, for forbearance, if not of the heart, is hypocrisy.
Such counsel appears unintelligible and self-contradictory until we realize that while the outer carnal man may be a hater and ill-wisher, there is in everyone an inner, spiritual nature which is the real man, from whom only love and goodwill can proceed. It is to this real, inner man in each of our neighbors that we must direct our thought and love. When he awakens into activity, the outer man will be transformed and renewed.