The Ethics of the Hidden Words
Updated: Oct 31, 2022
Shoghi Effendi, Guardian of the Baha’i Faith and authorized interpreter of its writings, tells us that the Hidden Words, (consisting of two parts, from the Arabic and from the Persian), occupies a position of “unsurpassed preeminence” among Baha’u’llah’s “ethical writings.” (God Passes By, p.140) In Shoghi Effendi’s exquisite English translation of the Hidden Words—a small book of powerful aphorisms—the word “heart” occurs forty-nine times.
The word “love” appears many times also and, further, in a variety of expressions including: “beloved,” “Beloved,” “loving-kindness,” “loved,” “Loved One,” “lovest,” “lover,” “loving,” “well-beloved,” “lovers’ blood,” and “lover’s heart.”
The tally of references to “love” is seventy-one times.
Hand of the Cause of God George Townshend, in an essay he wrote about the Hidden Words, compares its Arabic and Persian parts, commenting, “…the writer in Arabic is a loving teacher, the writer in Persian a teaching lover.”
The very first Arabic Hidden Word is explicitly focused on the human heart:
O SON OF SPIRIT! My first counsel is this: Possess a pure, kindly and radiant heart, that thine may be a sovereignty ancient, imperishable and everlasting.
In the second Arabic hidden word, when Baha’u’llah speaks of “Justice,” it is presented as a gift of God’s love that will bless us with first-hand knowledge. That is, “Justice” is bracketed within the terms “best beloved,” “heart,” and “loving-kindness.”
O SON OF SPIRIT! The best beloved of all things in My sight is Justice; turn not away therefrom if thou desirest Me, and neglect it not that I may confide in thee. By its aid thou shalt see with thine own eyes and not through the eyes of others, and shalt know of thine own knowledge and not through the knowledge of thy neighbor. Ponder this in thy heart; how it behooveth thee to be. Verily justice is My gift to thee and the sign of My loving-kindness. Set it then before thine eyes.
The very first Persian Hidden Word addresses the “first call of the Beloved” to the “mystic nightingale” which is a “messenger of the Solomon of love” bidding it, “Seek thou no shelter except in the Sheba of the well-beloved…”
The second Persian Hidden Word is focused on “the hearts of men.”
Baha’i ethics are grounded in God’s love and the response of the human heart.
Written by Paul Mantle. Paul Mantle has been a Baha'i since 1978 and currently lives in Grass Valley, California.