How is one impressed by meeting ‘Abdu'l-Baha?
By Arthur Cuthbert*, London, 25 September, 1911
To see, hear, or meet Him can never, it seems to me, be a shock, a startling surprise, or an overwhelming impression. It is a perfectly natural and simple experience, and may even, at first seem rather disappointing; but ‘Abdu'l-Baha will ever grow upon yon, even if the meeting is only once. Gradually, you will realize, more and more, what it is you have been in the presence of and made contact with. Not a personality, nor a dazzling individual, but so wonderful a state of perfect detachment and consecration have you encountered that it seems as if you are being lovingly addressed by the Holy Spirit Itself. It is a great lesson to us of a man's perfect attainment. We see before our eyes the attitude towards God each one of its ought to assume, so that each one in his place may be fully enabled to love all mankind abundantly, and act with the greatest wisdom, always shedding round him joy and happiness.
Coming into ‘Abdu'l-Baha's presence, we may forget everything, cease to believe anything, and may say He is but an Oriental man after all. We may question whether we are even a believer. We may desire to revise everything, that we may have only the truth and nothing but the truth. Then, Lo and behold. Truth stands out boldly! We still believe, but this belief which formerly floated high upon the surface of the sea - where it was rocked and tossed by every wind - now floats more deeply, being well ballasted, so that outer things henceforth can little affect it.
When we look at ‘Abdu'l-Baha with the eye of insight, meditating upon the words of love and wisdom emanating from Him, remembering the hosts of people so deeply affected by them… then do we grasp some little idea of the wonderful Guidance given Him in the midst of the difficulties with which He has ever been surrounded. In the light of this, the personality first encountered, disappears; it is sunk, it is resolved in His perfect consecration, in His absolute abandonment to the Spirit. As you look, a veil seems to come over His eyes, and you wonder where He is gazing. He, the individual person, seems as if eclipsed by the very divine Spirit of God. ‘Abdu’l-Baha is there, but only as the material focal-point perfectly serving the Light, as an existing object upon which the invisible Radiance impinges, and which thus becomes manifested unto us in all manner of wise, loving and fruitful ways. So doth the Reality of ‘Abdu’l-Baha impress the soul as it advances.
Star of the West, vol. 2, no. 12, October 16, 1911
* He was one of the early British Bahá'ís, evidently saw Bahá'u'lláh from a distance as confirmed by 'Abdu'l-Bahá in an unpublished tablet addressed to him. It appears that he saw Baha’u’llah while He was walking in the streets in the German colony at Haifa.
Moojan Momen, The Bábí and Bahá'í Religions 1844-1944, p. 234