21 November ― 18 Qudrat   Leave a comment

FROM: A Brief Account of My Visit to Acca by Mary L. Lucas
Chicago: Baha’i Publishing Society, 1905, pp: 11-14

On the subject of music and art and their effects on the spirit…from the Master, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in talks heard by Mary L. Lucas while in His presence during her pilgrimage to Haifa in 1905…

*******************.
“Voice is the vibration of the air, and is like the waves of the sea. The voice is produced through the instrumentality of the lips, throat, teeth, tongue, etc. These cause a wave in the air, and this wave reaches the nerve of the ear, which is thereby affected. This is the voice.
“All pure things are acceptable. For example: water — pure — is acceptable; fresh air is most acceptable. As all pure things are acceptable and pleasing, therefore a pure voice is most acceptable, and causes great enjoyment.
“There are two kinds of voices. One when the complete instrument is perfect, then the emission of sound is perfect. The second is when the instrument is imperfect, it affects the voice in such a way that it is far from pleasing. What we have just said refers to the voice itself.
“It is natural for the heart and spirit to take pleasure and enjoyment in all things that show forth symmetry, harmony, and perfection. For instance: a beautiful house, a well designed garden, a symmetrical line, a graceful motion, a well written book, pleasing garments — in fact, all things that have in themselves grace or beauty are pleasing to the heart and spirit — therefore, it is most certain that a true voice causes deep pleasure.
“What is music? It is a combination of harmonious sounds. What is poetry? It is a symmetrical collection of words. Therefore, they are pleasing through harmony and rhythm. Poetry is much more effective and complete than prose. It stirs more deeply, for it is of a finer composition.
“A fine voice when joined to beautiful music causes a great effect, for both are desirable and pleasing. All these have in themselves an organization, and are constructed on natural law. Therefore, they correspond to the order of existence like something which would fit into a mold. A true voice fits into the mold of nature. When it is so, this affects the nerves, and they affect the heart and spirit.
“In the world of existence physical things have a connection with spiritual realities. One of these things is the voice, which connects itself with the spirit; and the spirit can be uplifted by this means — for though it is a physical thing, it is one of the material, natural organizations — therefore, it is effective.
“All forms when understood aright gladden the spirit. Melodies are like water. The voice is like a goblet. The pure water in a pure glass is pleasing. Therefore, it is acceptable. But even though the water be pure, if it be in a goblet which is not so, this receptacle will make it unacceptable. Therefore, a faulty voice even though the music be good, is unpleasing.
“In short: melodies, though they are material, are connected with the spiritual, therefore, they produce a great effect. A certain kind of melody makes the spirit happy, another kind makes it sad, another excites it to action.
“All these feelings can be caused by voice and music, for through the nerves it moves and stirs the spirit. Even over animals, music has an effect. For example: When they wish to take a camel over a desert road, they attach to him some bells, or they play upon a flute, and this sound prevents him from realizing the fatigue of the journey; his nerves are affected, but he does not have an increase of thought, he feels nothing but physical sensation….
…Whatever is in the heart of man, melody moves and awakens. If a heart full of good feelings and a pure voice are joined together, a great effect is produced. For instance: if there be love in the heart, through melody, it will increase until its intensity can scarcely be borne; but if bad thoughts are in the heart, such as hatred, it will increase and multiply. For instance: the music used in war awakens the desire for bloodshed. The meaning is that melody causes whatever feeling is in the heart to increase.
“Some feelings occur accidentally and some have a foundation. For example: some people are naturally kind, but they may be accidentally upset by a wave of anger. But if they hear music, the true nature will reassert itself. Music really awakens the real, natural nature, the individual essence.
“With whatever purpose you listen to music, that purpose will be increased. For instance: there will be a concert given for the poor and unfortunate, and if you go there thinking of the aim, the music will increase your compassion and generosity. This is the reason why music is used in war. And so it is with all the things that cause the excitation of the nerves.
“But the principal effect is caused by the Word, and when words are united to beautiful melody, the most exquisite harmony is produced.”

MORNING:

Thou beholdest, O my God, Thy servant who dwelleth in this prison-house, wholly detached from any one but Thee, his eyes turned in the direction of the Day-Spring of Thy mercy, his heart longing for the wondrous manifestations of Thy grace. Thou, O my Lord, hast reckoned up the ills that have afflicted him in Thy path. Thou seest him compassed about with such of Thy creatures as have transgressed and rebelled against Thee, who have come in between him and Thy loved ones, who have fixed his abode in this land and wronged Thee, and who have hindered Thy servants from turning towards Thee.

For all these things I offer thanksgiving unto Thee, O my Lord! I implore Thee to assist me and them that love me to magnify Thy Word, and to endow us with such strength that the ills of this world and its tribulations will be powerless to hinder us from remembering Thee and from extolling Thy virtues. Powerful art Thou to do all things; resplendent art Thou above all things.

Every conqueror is but a serf whom Thy hand hath subjected, and the richest of the rich is as destitute before the immensity of Thy wealth. The noblest of nobles is humbled when faced with the manifestations of Thy glory, and the mightiest of potentates is a mere abject one when confronted with the compelling evidences of Thine authority.

Tear asunder, O my God, the veil of vain imaginings that hath obscured the vision of Thy people, that all may haste towards Thee, may tread the path of Thy pleasure, and walk in the ways of Thy Faith. We are, O my God, Thy servants and Thy bondsmen. Thou art sufficient unto us so that we can dispense with the world and all that is therein. We are wholly satisfied with all that hath befallen us in Thy path, and exclaim: “Praised be Thou, in Whose hand are the realms of revelation and of creation, and all the kingdoms of earth and heaven!”

His Holiness Bahá’u’lláh

Prayers and Meditations by Bahá’u’lláh, pp: 101-102

EVENING:

Magnified be Thy name, O Lord my God, inasmuch as Thou hast inclined mine ear to Thy voice, and called me to Thyself, and opened mine eyes to gaze on Thy beauty, and illumined my heart with Thy knowledge, and sanctified my breast from the doubts of the infidels in Thy days. I am the one, O my God, who lay fast asleep on his couch, when lo, the messengers of Thy manifold mercies were sent down upon me by Thee, and the gentle winds of Thy loving-kindness blew over me, and roused me up, and caused me to set my face towards the sanctuary of Thy knowledge, and to fix mine eyes upon the splendors of the light of Thy face.

I am but a poor creature, O my Lord! Behold me clinging to the hem of Thy riches. I have fled from darkness and from waywardness unto the brightness of the light of Thy countenance. Were I — and to this Thy glory beareth me witness — to render thanksgiving unto Thee, through the whole continuance of Thy kingdom and the duration of the heaven of Thine omnipotence, I would still have failed to repay Thy manifold bestowals.

I implore Thee, O my Lord, by Thy name, the Ever-Abiding, and by Thy name which Thou didst ordain to be the most great Instrument binding Thee to Thy servants, to grant that I may flee for shelter to Thy door, and speak forth Thy praise. Write down, then, for me, in every world of Thine, that which will enable me to enter beneath Thy shadow and within the borders of Thy court.

Thou art, verily, the Almighty, the Most Bountiful, the Most Exalted, the Ever-Forgiving, the Most Generous.

His Holiness Bahá’u’lláh

Prayers and Meditations by Bahá’u’lláh, pp: 121-122

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