You should’ve been there when the hippies asked the man who met Baha’u’llah their questions.

My father tells the story about one especially patchouli-soaked fellow with dirty blonde tresses and bare feet who sat on the floor. This young hippie was a regular at this and other local spiritual events. When it came time for questions, he raised his hand and asked Mr. Samandari:

“Hey maaan, I’m just wondering, what will the world be like in the future?”

He listened with his usual gentle deference. Then, Mr. “Ornament-of-God-Phoenix,” (the literal translation of his name) beamed at him radiantly and held out his hands in front of him, together, palms down.

“Today,” he said, “the world is like this.”

He then turned his hands over, palms up, open to the ceiling. “Tomorrow? It will be like this.”
The room went silent. The attendees drank in the simplicity and profundity of that statement.

Now, I’m sure you’re asking yourself at this point. “Wait a minute here. I thought he was holding you, a bulbous baby, while he spoke. How did he do the thing with the hands without dropping your enormity on the floor?”

Good question, stalwart listener. I have no idea. I was nine months old, the very definition of a pre-ambulatory infant. I might have been in my mother’s arms or put away in a crib at that point. I was probably dreaming of milk and kittens and moonlight in a blissful infantile sleep, intellectually unaware of the spiritual conversation around me.

Mr. Samandari passed away less than a year after speaking in our home. He died very near the Baha’i Holy Land in Akka, Israel, a few mere miles away from where he had spent time with Baha’u’llah as a youth, and became a devoted follower of the Baha’i teachings:

No breeze can compare with the breezes of Divine Revelation, whilst the Word which is uttered by God shineth and flasheth as the sun amidst the books of men. Happy the man that hath discovered it, and recognized it, and said: “Praised be Thou, Who art the Desire of the world, and thanks be to Thee, O Well-Beloved of the hearts of such as are devoted to Thee!” – Baha’u’llah, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, pp. 42-43.

Oh, and that patchouli-soaked dude with the bare feet who asked the question? Apparently, he too became a devoted Baha’i for the rest of his life.

We’re no longer in those crazy, revolutionary, spirituality-fueled “hippie” days. The times are quite different now. But I honestly believe today, more than even the late sixties, we are in need of a transformation of the world from one of distrust and greed to one of peace and cooperation. It’s true “The Who” sang “We Won’t Get Fooled Again” in response to the hypocrisies of the counter-culture—and we won’t. Real change needs to come not through drugs, “hug ins” and generalities about love. We need a plan and some hard, specific work.

Baha’u’llah’s birth two hundred years ago means many things to me. His writings have helped me on my journey from giant infant to slightly overweight middle-aged man—a journey fraught with much pain and difficulty, as are all of our journeys. The Baha’i writings have given me solace as well as purpose.

I’m honored to witness my fellow Baha’is all around the globe, humble people of every race and class, working for unity and love and fighting for the rights of the downtrodden—helping the palms of humankind turn from down to up. The meek actually inheriting the Earth. I am, most of all, honored to have been the fat baby on the tiny lap of that gentle man, Samandari, who spent time with Baha’u’llah, the Glory of God.

When I think of Samandari today, the resonance of his metaphorically rich demonstration lingers.

Think of the palms extended, down. Then rotating. Turning. Up.

What does it mean? I’m not really sure, but I’ll share a thought. On one hand, the world will be turned upside down—we’re already seeing that painful, chaotic process begin to occur.

On the other hand, what was closed, shut-down and facing the ground will be opened, like hearts, to the sky. Rebirth. Evolution. Transcendence. Things completely different from the way they are now. That pain of transformation will lead us, perhaps, to a world based not on self-serving but one of harmony, compassion, service and an aching kindness, one to another.

The opinions and views expressed in this article are those of the author only and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of or any institution of the Baha’i Faith.


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  • Robert Green
    Dec 31, 2017
    it occurs to me that it hard to build when your foundation is over head, when we turn our hands over we have a solid foundation upon which to build. now where have I heard that idea before? :)
  • Domingos da Gama
    Dec 30, 2017
    I agree with your statement dear Rainn Wilson and if I had enough diction, I could add more in my feedback to your statement.
  • Domingos da Gama
    Dec 30, 2017
    To help Him is to teach His Cause, to help Him is to teach His Faith and, when we are capable to transmit with transparency His words and open the citadel of their hearts accordingly, we are conquering grass 'roots and when the words conquer mass, they become material force for the transformation of this world, for the betterment of mankind and advancing the civilization. Thank you.
  • Rosslyn and Steven Osborne
    Dec 30, 2017
    Yes Rainn, I also feel that we are definitely in that turning of the world and all that is in it. So many things happening at speed to huge changes and some for good but many for bad, just as we were for-warned. We must stay strong and keep marching forwarded to spread the Words of Bala'u'llah and show the world of humanity that there is hope. I have totally loved these essays... God's blessings.
  • Gail Lash
    Dec 30, 2017
    Thank you! Love the hands metaphor. We are already seeing the transformations and turning. Blessings.
  • Mark David Vinzens
    Dec 30, 2017
    The Golden Age (Satya Yuga) will come. I am very confident about that, because there are many similar prophecies from various sources. The Vedas describe in detail the cycle of four periods, recurring on Earth (and in the entire universe). You and I have the pleasure of living in the Iron Age.
    • Rezal Martinez-Gillies
      Dec 30, 2017
      Yes! Hinduism and Baha’i have many connections! I remember reading the Bhagavad Gita for the first time and just loving it!
  • Mark David Vinzens
    Dec 30, 2017
    Whenever there is a decline in righteousness, and a rise in unrighteousness prevails, then do I manifest myself, O Bhaarata. (Bhagavad Gita Verse 7, Chapter 4)
  • Aires Mario da Cruz
    Dec 29, 2017
    "Oh, and that patchouli-soaked dude with the bare feet who asked the question? Apparently, he too became a devoted Baha’i for the rest of his life."
    Something strange has been ringing into my ears "... Apparently, he too became a devoted Baha’i for the rest of his life." And, was that not Rainn Wilson???