A collection of lyrical, gem-like verses of scripture that convey timeless spiritual wisdom "clothed in the garment of brevity," The Hidden Words is one of the most important and cherished scriptural works of the Bahai Faith. Revealed by Bahaullah, the founder of the religion, the verses are a perfect guidebook to walking a spiritual path and drawing closer to God. They address themes such as turning to God, humility, detachment, love, to name but a few. These verses are among Bahaullah's earliest and best-known works, ...
A collection of lyrical, gem-like verses of scripture that convey timeless spiritual wisdom "clothed in the garment of brevity," The Hidden Words is one of the most important and cherished scriptural works of the Bahai Faith. Revealed by Bahaullah, the founder of the religion, the verses are a perfect guidebook to walking a spiritual path and drawing closer to God. They address themes such as turning to God, humility, detachment, love, to name but a few. These verses are among Bahaullah's earliest and best-known works, having been translated into more than seventy languages and read by millions worldwide.
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I have had a long curiosity about the Baha'i Faith and its teachings of the universal nature of religion, the unity of human beings, and the imperative of tolerating and respecting beliefs different from one's own. I have always been intrigued by how these teachings of universalism and the essential unity of all religions can fit within the confines of an individual, independent religion, the Baha'i Faith, with its own teachings and texts. Thus, I was pleased to have the opportunity to read this short book "The Hidden Words of Bahaullah" composed by the founder of the Baha'i Faith, Baha'u'llah (1817 -- 1892) while in prison. The book was written in part in Arabic and in part in Persian and was translated by Baha'u'llah's disciple, Shogi Effendi. This book was my first experience with Baha'i scripture.
"The Hidden Words of Baha'u'llah" consists of about 153 short paragraphs in two parts. It is cast in the form of short revelations to Bahaullah each of which is prefaced by a short exhortation such as "To the Son of Man" characterizing the person or persons to whom the revelation is addressed. There is a brief introductory paragraph to the collection, indicating that the aim of the text is to distill, in short form, teachings that are universal to the spiritual life. This goal of the collection is reflected in some of the comments on this site. These teachings have, and were intended to have, many parallels in the teachings of the other great world religions.
The teachings speak of the need for a pure heart, of the need of detachment from everyday life, and of the importance of not envying, critcizing or condemning others. I was struck by the other-worldliness of many of the teachings, as they exhort the follower to turn away from materialism and desire and turn one's attention and heart to the divine. To me, some of the teachings seem directed to mankind, while others, if I am not mistaken, appear primarily directed towards Baha'u'llah himself. In this latter regard, there are several of the teachings which speak of the value of imprisonment, suffering and martyrdom as they advance the cause of God. These teachings seem to be directed to the founder of the faith or to those in danger of persecution on account of their beliefs. While most of the short sayings are readily intelligible to readers of many backgrounds, some sections, particularly near the end of the book, allude to figures that have some specific meaning for the Baha'i faith.
This book is known within the Baha'i community but will appeal to those who have an interest in exploring a variety of spiritual traditions. I am in this latter group. It is an inspiring text. The work here is presented without an introduction, notes, or commentary. Thus, I was unable to learn the place of this specific text within the Baha'i teachings as a whole. An introduction to the book with an overview of the Baha'i Faith and of how this book fits within it would have been invaluable. Also, notes in the way of a commentary on the organization and substance of the text would have been helpful. There is always a great deal more to understanding a short spiritual work than reading the words of the text. Context and discussion would be useful.
This is an important religious text, and it is good to have it widely accessible. It will appeal to those readers interested in the Baha'i Faith, to those interested in comparative religion, and to those interested in spiritual growth.
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