Learning to find the Pearls in the Ocean of Bahá’u’lláh’s Writings
Mindy Mendelsohn, Watkinsville, Georgia, discovered oceans of meaning in the depths of the Bahá’í sacred writings.
When I began this course [Baha’u’llah’s Revelation: A Systematic Survey], I thought I was a deepened believer who was a good reader and familiar with the Baha’i writings. How my eyes were opened!!!! . . . . This course provided a refresher in identifying style, tone, language type, allusions, etc. It also made me aware of techniques such as examining the oeuvre and the biography of the writer, as well as the times, the politics, and the literary tradition. The two works we studied in this manner have become much more familiar and intimate to me. I now know to not just read a book, but to research a book. There are so many amazing layers to be peeled back. . . .
I feel a little ashamed that I did not grasp these concepts earlier in my Baha’i life. Is it really a Western trait to just read and think you’ve “got it”? Knowing that the Writings are meant to apply to all humanity and to last thousands of years, I didn’t realize the necessity of viewing the literature through the Nine Windows of meaning. I could see the universal application, and that was all I cared about. But now I realize how much the backstory to a literary work enhances its meaning—even the Revealed Word.
I apologize to Baha’u’llah for being so self-satisfied in my past studies. I promise to dig deeper and pay better attention to the “layers” in the future.
I have a new appreciation for the interconnectedness of the times, the political situation, the individual daily lives of the Central Figures, and the overriding universal theme of all our precious writings. The Bab, Baha’u’llah, and ‘Abdu’l-Baha were writing for their immediate audience as well as future generations. What an amazing task and how perfectly They fulfilled it. . . . They were in their own immediate time and place, and while being present in that, and addressing that world, They still reached up and out to the whole world and its peoples for thousands of years into the future. I caught what they were sending up and out. I am one of those peoples of the future. Now I must follow that stream back to the roots. I must descend back in time to where they were, how they lived, with whom they associated—back to the roots of the writings that I caught and embraced. Only then will I have done justice to the study of writings.
I can commit to looking through the Nine Windows with each Baha’i book I read; can share this insight with others by reviewing what I have learned with them and by referring them to this course; can utilize the many on-line resources that I now know are available to me for Baha’i study. There are so many brilliant and sharing Baha’i scholars out there!
I can organize a Baha’i study group around a certain book and have the group use the tools to become more deeply familiar with it.