Posted by: Caity | May 30, 2010

The Abandonment of Enraptured Love

I might as well start my blog by including on it posts I’ve written on others’ blogs! So here’s the first, from Denali’s blog Sounds of Laughter. I visited my dear friend Denali (who was my roommate last year) in Dominica, which is a small island nation in the Caribbean in between Martinique and Guadeloupe. She is there until next spring assisting the local Bahá’í community in the Carib Territory (the main area set aside for the remaining indigenous Caribbean people)! To the left is one of my favorite pictures from the trip, of Denali with sweet 3 year old Lydia ❤

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Hear Me, ye mortal birds!  In the Rose Garden of changeless splendor a Flower hath begun to bloom, compared to which every other flower is but a thorn, and before the brightness of Whose glory the very essence of beauty must pale and wither.  Arise, therefore, and, with the whole enthusiasm of your hearts, with all the eagerness of your souls, the full fervor of your will, and the concentrated efforts of your entire being, strive to attain the paradise of His presence, and endeavor to inhale the fragrance of the incorruptible Flower, to breathe the sweet savors of holiness, and to obtain a portion of this perfume of celestial glory.  Whoso followeth this counsel will break his chains asunder, will taste the abandonment of enraptured love, will attain unto his heart’s desire, and will surrender his soul into the hands of his Beloved.  Bursting through his cage, he will, even as the bird of the spirit, wing his flight to his holy and everlasting nest.

Bahá’u’lláh (Gleanings, p 320-321)


It is nearing the rainy season in Dominica, and the skies are baring their chests to empty their treasures upon the earth: countless drops, the water of life, pouring successively upon the grounds and forests of this tropical island nation. If the clouds will it, it will rain multiple times per day – the commas and semicolons to the hours that otherwise speak of nothing but hot, scorching sun.  And sometimes the bounties of the sky will come in pairs. The rain will of a sudden begin pounding on the corrugated tin roof, forming a cool curtain as you look out from the porch onto the palm and mango trees, and yet the sun will not shy away but illumine the scene, reflecting shimmerings of light off of the droplets and drenched leaves. When such an event occurs, you stand still on the porch and simply gaze out, in awe of the dual bounties from heaven.

While here this week visiting Denali and her housemate Roushy, I have basked in many of the bounties of heaven. This week has brought participation in multiple Bahá’í study circles, reflecting on the divine Word and its practical applications in our daily lives. It has brought sung hymns and prayers in Arabic, English and Patwa at multiple devotional gatherings. It has brought basket weaving, passing the shaved “lauma” reeds in and out of each other (one of the traditional crafts of the Carib people of this area). This week I have let the golden juice of mango drip from my chin, laughed deeply and sweetly the laughter of dear friends, deepened daily on divine verses and spiritually oriented texts, and prayed at dawn, watching the sun rise over the ocean and through the coconut trees. I have bathed and washed clothes in the river, swam in the rough waves where the Atlantic meets the Caribbean, and baked on a large rock in the sun (“baked” is appropriate here, considering the color of my skin afterwards).

This week also yielded the bounty of celebrating Denali’s birthday. Each year on the eve of her birthday, Denali recites the beautiful “Remover of Difficulties” prayer one thousand times. Yes, one thousand times. This is based on a passage in Shoghi Effendi’s history of the Bahá’í Faith, God Passes By, where Bahá’u’lláh is quoted:

`Bid them recite: “Is there any Remover of difficulties save God? Say: Praised be God! He is God! All are His servants, and all abide by His bidding!” Tell them to repeat it five hundred times, nay, a thousand times, by day and by night, sleeping and waking, that haply the Countenance of Glory may be unveiled to their eyes, and tiers of light descend upon them.’ (p 119)

We began well into the evening. You feel the first few hundred, each one of them. You are well aware of time, perhaps counting them all in your head to gauge how far you’ve come along. In the Dhammapada, Buddha says that the mind is like a fish out of water, eager to thrash about and hard to make still. But after a while, time seems to suspend. All that is left is the cool night, the undulating chorus of crickets, and heavenly communion. The words were floating in the clouds, and we were not here nor there, but full of light. Perhaps around 600, the skies decided to reach down to us, as we had reached up to them. Just as we stepped from the porch into the open darkness of the night, the heavens themselves opened. We became drenched in the cool rain, our hair dripping and our hands raised up to receive each drop kissing our palms. What love! What abandon! What reunion!

Breaking our chains, the chains of attachment to our material form and existence, to our personal opinions and conceptions of our limitations, we taste the abandonment of enraptured love. Love is that force which pulls all things to the earth, which holds firmly the planets around the sun and the electrons around the atom’s nucleus. It is that mysterious magnetism, that gravity that binds one soul simultaneously to another and to the source of creation. As the reeds of a basket, we are woven together in bonds of love and are put to good use in the service to humanity. What else but love can motivate one to wake up at 5:30 to bathe and dress the 3 year old daughter of an ill neighboring mother, to ready her for school? What but love can provide the energy and sustenance to allow you to continue on a path that you know is right, but you’ve not yet seen fruit or confirmation? In the words of the most recent message of the Universal House of Justice for Ridvan 2010, “…is it not love for God which burns away all veils of estrangement and division and binds hearts together in perfect unity? Is it not His love that spurs you on in the field of service…?”

There is a story of a drop of rain. It was falling through the clouds and musing about itself, proudly saying, “I am the water of life! Look at me! I am what causes all things to grow and flourish.” But as it passed through the bottom-most clouds, it saw the vast and expansive Ocean. At this sight, it was humbled. “If this exists,” it asked, “then what am I?” As it said this, the Ocean loved it, and welcomed it into its depths. The drop became part of the Ocean.

Both the ocean and the rain are near ubiquitous here this time of year, as the Atlantic is viewable from nearly every point of the Carib Territory and the hot days are punctuated by cool floods of rain. Like the rain drops, we each possess those elements from which life is made, those divine attributes that have been instilled within us. Yet, what are we when we are not bound with that mighty Ocean? With all of the enthusiasm of our hearts, let us strive to attain the paradise of the divine presence! Let us break our chains asunder, and taste the abandonment of enraptured love! That love, that sweet divine love, is the single force of integration in this world.

Let us put aside all thoughts of self; let us close our eyes to all on earth, let us neither make known our sufferings nor complain of our wrongs. Rather let us become oblivious of our own selves, and drinking down the wine of heavenly grace, let us cry out our joy, and lose ourselves in the beauty of the All-Glorious.

(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p 236)

***Check out Caity’s pictures from her trip to Dominica: Click Here

The praise which hath dawned from Thy most august Self, and the glory which hath shone forth from Thy most effulgent Beauty, rest upon Thee, O Thou Who art the Manifestation of Grandeur, and the King of Eternity, and the Lord of all who are in heaven and on earth! I testify that through Thee the sovereignty of God and His dominion, and the majesty of God and His grandeur, were revealed, and the Daystars of ancient splendour have shed their radiance in the heaven of Thine irrevocable decree, and the Beauty of the Unseen hath shone forth above the horizon of creation. I testify, moreover, that with but a movement of Thy Pen Thine injunction “Be Thou” hath been enforced, and God’s hidden Secret hath been divulged, and all created things have been called into being, and all the Revelations have been sent down.

I bear witness, moreover, that through Thy beauty the beauty of the Adored One hath been unveiled, and through Thy face the face of the Desired One hath shone forth, and that through a word from Thee Thou hast decided between all created things, caused them who are devoted to Thee to ascend unto the summit of glory, and the infidels to fall into the lowest abyss.

I bear witness that he who hath known Thee hath known God, and he who hath attained unto Thy presence hath attained unto the presence of God. Great, therefore, is the blessedness of him who hath believed in Thee, and in Thy signs, and hath humbled himself before Thy sovereignty, and hath been honoured with meeting Thee, and hath attained the good pleasure of Thy will, and circled around Thee, and stood before Thy throne. Woe betide him that hath transgressed against Thee, and hath denied Thee, and repudiated Thy signs, and gainsaid Thy sovereignty, and risen up against Thee, and waxed proud before Thy face, and hath disputed Thy testimonies, and fled from Thy rule and Thy dominion, and been numbered with the infidels whose names have been inscribed by the fingers of Thy behest upon Thy holy Tablets.

Waft, then, unto me, O my God and my Beloved, from the right hand of Thy mercy and Thy loving-kindness, the holy breaths of Thy favours, that they may draw me away from myself and from the world unto the courts of Thy nearness and Thy presence. Potent art Thou to do what pleaseth Thee. Thou, truly, hast been supreme over all things.

The remembrance of God and His praise, and the glory of God and His splendour, rest upon Thee, O Thou Who art His Beauty! I bear witness that the eye of creation hath never gazed upon one wronged like Thee. Thou wast immersed all the days of Thy life beneath an ocean of tribulations. At one time Thou wast in chains and fetters; at another Thou wast threatened by the sword of Thine enemies. Yet despite all this, Thou didst enjoin upon all men to observe what had been prescribed unto Thee by Him Who is the All-Knowing, the All-Wise.

May my spirit be a sacrifice to the wrongs Thou didst suffer, and my soul be a ransom for the adversities Thou didst sustain. I beseech God, by Thee and by them whose faces have been illumined with the splendours of the light of Thy countenance, and who, for love of Thee, have observed all whereunto they were bidden, to remove the veils that have come in between Thee and Thy creatures, and to supply me with the good of this world and the world to come. Thou art, in truth, the Almighty, the Most Exalted, the All-Glorious, the Ever-Forgiving, the Most Compassionate.

Bless Thou, O Lord my God, the Divine Lote-Tree and its leaves, and its boughs, and its branches, and its stems, and its offshoots, as long as Thy most excellent titles will endure and Thy most august attributes will last. Protect it, then, from the mischief of the aggressor and the hosts of tyranny. Thou art, in truth, the Almighty, the Most Powerful. Bless Thou, also, O Lord my God, Thy servants and Thy handmaidens who have attained unto Thee, Thou, truly, art the All-Bountiful, Whose grace is infinite. No God is there save Thee, the Ever-Forgiving, the Most Generous.

– Bahá’u’lláh

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