Friday, November 28, 2014

The Seven Valleys by Bahá'u'lláh

Photograph by Larry Fellows, Arizona Geological Survey

This famous version of "The Seven Valleys" is written by Bahá'u'lláh (1817- 1892), the founder of the Bahá'í Faith. Certainly, he has read the  Attar's book but everyone has the individual experiences about it...until the traveler will traverse them, anyway.

Valley of Search
The steed of this Valley is patience; without patience the wayfarer on this journey will reach nowhere and attain no goal. Nor should he ever be downhearted; if he strive for a hundred thousand years and yet fail to behold the beauty of the Friend, he should not falter. [...]
On this journey the traveler abides in every land and dwells in every region. In every face, he seeks the beauty of the Friend; in every country he looks for the Beloved. He joins every company, and seeks fellowship with every soul, that haply in some mind he may uncover the secret of the Friend, or in some face he may behold the beauty of the Loved One.
And if, by the help of God, he finds on this journey a trace of the traceless Friend, and inhales the fragrance of the long-lost Joseph from the heavenly messenger, he shall straightway step into The Valley of Love.
The Valley of Love
Here the seeker shall straightway step into The Valley of Love and be dissolved in the fire of love. The steed of this Valley is pain; and if there be no pain this journey will never end. In this station the lover has no thought save the Beloved, and seeks no refuge save the Friend. At every moment he offers a hundred lives in the path of the Loved One, at every step he throws a thousand heads at the feet of the Beloved.
O My Brother! Until thou enter the Egypt of love, thou shalt never come to the Joseph of the Beauty of the Friend; and until, like Jacob, thou forsake thine outward eyes, thou shalt never open the eye of thine inward being; and until thou burn with the fire of love, thou shalt never commune with the Lover of Longing.
[...] And if, confirmed by the Creator, the lover escapes from the claws of the eagle of love, he will enter The Valley of Knowledge ...
The Valley of Knowledge
... he will enter The Valley of Knowledge and come out of doubt into certitude, and turn from the darkness of illusion to the guiding light of the fear of God. His inner eyes will open and he will privily converse with his Beloved; he will set ajar the gate of truth and piety, and shut the doors of vain imaginings. He in this station is content with the decree of God, and sees war as peace, and finds in death the secrets of everlasting life. With inward and outward eyes he witnesses the mysteries of resurrection in the realms of creation and the souls of men, and with a pure heart apprehends the divine wisdom in the endless Manifestations of God. In the ocean he finds a drop, in a drop he beholds the secrets of the sea.
The wayfarer in this Valley sees in the fashioning of the True One nothing save clear providence, and at every moment saith: "No defect canst thou see in the creation of the God of Mercy: Repeat the gaze: Sees thou a single flaw?"
He beholds justice in injustice, and in justice, grace. In ignorance he finds many a knowledge hidden, and in knowledge a myriad wisdoms manifest. He breaks the cage of the body and the passions, and consorts with the people of the immortal realm. He mounts on the ladders of inner truth and hastens to the heaven of inner significance. [...] And if he meets with injustice he shall have patience, and if he cometh upon wrath he shall manifest love. Those who journey in the garden land of knowledge, because they see the end in the beginning, see peace in war and friendliness in anger.
[...] After passing through the Valley of knowledge, which is the last plane of limitation, the wayfarer cometh to the Valley of Unity ...
The Valley of Unity
... the wayfarer comes to the Valley of Unity and drinks from the cup of the Absolute, and gazes on the Manifestations of Oneness. In this station he pierces the veils of plurality, flees from the worlds of the flesh, and ascends into the heaven of singleness. With the ear of God he hears, with the eye of God he beholds the mysteries of divine creation. He steppes into the sanctuary of the Friend, and shares as an intimate the pavilion of the Loved One. He stretches out the hand of truth from the sleeve of the Absolute; he reveals the secrets of power. He sees in himself neither name nor fame nor rank, but finds his own praise in praising God. He beholds in his own name the name of God; to him, "all songs are from the King," and every melody from Him. He sits on the throne of "Say, all is from God," [Qur'án 4:80] and takes his rest on the carpet of "There is no power or might but in God." [Qur'án 18:37] He looks on all things with the eye of oneness, and sees the brilliant rays of the divine sun shining from the dawning-point of Essence alike on all created things, and the lights of singleness reflected over all creation.
O My Brother! A pure heart is as a mirror; cleanse it with the burnish of love and severance from all save God, that the true sun may shine within it and the eternal morning dawn. Then wilt thou clearly see the meaning of "Neither doth My earth nor My heaven contain Me, but the heart of My faithful servant contains Me." And thou wilt take up thy life in thine hand, and with infinite longing cast it before the new Beloved One.
When so ever the light of Manifestation of the King of Oneness settles upon the throne of the heart and soul, His shining becomes visible in every limb and member. At that time the mystery of the famed tradition gleams out of the darkness: "A servant is drawn unto Me in prayer until I answer him; and when I have answered him, I become the ear wherewith he hears...." For thus the Master of the house has appeared within His home, and all the pillars of the dwelling are ashine with His light. And the action and effect of the light are from the Light-Giver; so it is that all move through Him and arise by His will. And this is that spring where of the near ones drink, as it is said: "A fount whereof the near unto God shall drink...." [Qur'án 83:28]
However, let none construe these utterances to be anthropomorphism, nor see in them the descent of the worlds of God into the grades of the creatures; nor should they lead thine Eminence to such assumptions. For God is, in His Essence, holy above ascent and descent, entrance and exit; He has through all eternity been free of the attributes of human creatures, and ever will remain so. No man has ever known Him; no soul has ever found the pathway to His Being. Every mystic knower has wandered far astray in the valley of the knowledge of Him; every saint has lost his way in seeking to comprehend His Essence. Sanctified is He above the understanding of the wise; exalted is He above the knowledge of the knowing! The way is barred and to seek it is impiety; His proof is His signs; His being is His evidence.
Thus it has been made clear that these stages depend on the vision of the wayfarer. In every city he will behold a world, in every Valley reach a spring, in every meadow hear a song. But the falcon of the mystic heaven has many a wondrous carol of the spirit in His breast, and the Persian bird keeps in His soul many a sweet Arab melody; yet these are hidden, and hidden shall remain.

If I speak forth, many a mind will shatter,
And if I write, many a pen will break.

Peace be upon him who concludes this exalted journey and follows the True One by the lights of guidance. And the wayfarer, after traversing the high planes of this supernal journey, enters The Valley of Contentment.
The Valley of Contentment
In this Valley he feels the winds of divine contentment blowing from the plane of the spirit. He burns away the veils of want, and with inward and outward eye, perceives within and without all things the day of: "God will compensate each one out of His abundance." [Qur'án 4:129] From sorrow he turns to bliss, from anguish to joy. His grief and mourning yield to delight and rapture.
Although to outward view, the wayfarers in this Valley may dwell upon the dust, yet inwardly they are throned in the heights of mystic meaning; they eat of the endless bounties of inner significances, and drink of the delicate wines of the spirit.
O friend, till thou enter the garden of such mysteries, thou shalt never set lip to the undying wine of this Valley. And should thou taste of it, thou wilt shield thine eyes from all things else, and drink of the wine of contentment; and thou wilt loose thyself from all things else, and bind thyself to Him, and throw thy life down in His path, and cast thy soul away. However, there is no other in this region that thou need forget: "There was God and there was naught beside Him." For on this plane the traveler witnesses the beauty of the Friend in everything. Even in fire, he sees the face of the Beloved. He beholds in illusion the secret of reality, and reads from the attributes the riddle of the Essence. For he has burnt away the veils with his sighing, and unwrapped the shrouding with a single glance; with piercing sight he gazes on the new creation; with lucid heart he grasps subtle verities.
After journeying through the planes of pure contentment, the traveler cometh to the Valley of Wonderment ...
The Valley of Wonderment
After journeying through the planes of pure contentment, the traveler comes to the Valley of Wonderment and is tossed in the oceans of grandeur, and at every moment his wonder grows. Now he sees the shape of wealth as poverty itself, and the essence of freedom as sheer impotence. Now is he struck dumb with the beauty of the All-Glorious; again is he wearied out with his own life. How many a mystic tree has this whirlwind of wonderment snatched by the roots, how many a soul hath it exhausted. For in this Valley the traveler is flung into confusion, albeit, in the eye of him who hath attained, such marvels are esteemed and well beloved. At every moment he beholds a wondrous world, a new creation, and goes from astonishment to astonishment, and is lost in awe at the works of the Lord of Oneness.
Indeed, O Brother, if we ponder each created thing, we shall witness a myriad perfect wisdoms and learn a myriad new and wondrous truths. One of the created phenomena is the dream. Behold how many secrets are deposited therein, how many wisdoms treasured up, how many worlds concealed. Observe, how thou art asleep in a dwelling, and its doors are barred; on a sudden thou finds thyself in a far-off city, which thou enters without moving thy feet or wearying thy body; without using thine eyes, thou sees; without taxing thine ears, thou hearest; without a tongue, thou speaks. And perchance when ten years are gone, thou wilt witness in the outer world the very things thou hast dreamed tonight.
Now there are many wisdoms to ponder in the dream, which none but the people of this Valley can comprehend in their true elements. First, what is this world, where without eye and ear and hand and tongue a man puts all of these to use? Second, how is it that in the outer world thou sees today the effect of a dream, when thou didst vision it in the world of sleep some ten years past? Consider the difference between these two worlds and the mysteries which they conceal, that thou mayest attain to divine confirmations and heavenly discoveries and enter the regions of holiness.
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 signifies 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 reaches 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 has, from heart to skin, will be set aflame, so that nothing will remain save the Friend.
This state is that poverty of which it is said, "Poverty is My glory." [Muhammad]
This is the plane whereon the vestiges of all things are destroyed in the traveler, and on the horizon of eternity the Divine Face rises out of the darkness, and the meaning of "All on the earth shall pass away, but the face of thy Lord...." [Qur'án 55:26, 27] is made manifest.
In this Valley, the wayfarer leaves behind him the stages of the "oneness of Being and Manifestation" and reaches a oneness that is sanctified above these two stations. Ecstasy alone can encompass this theme, not utterance nor argument; and whosoever has dwelt at this stage of the journey, or caught a breath from this garden land, knows whereof We speak.

In all these journeys the traveler must stray 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.
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." 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 breath, if God will and desire it. And this is of "His grace on such of His servants as He pleases." [Qur'án 2:84]

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