When I get up in the morning, I peruse the little book Baha’i Readings to find a Baha’i quote to inspire my day.
Baha’i Readings is organized by date, so the book makes it simple, and each quote opens my waking mind to a new realm of possibility.
This quote of Baha’u’llah’s did that for me this morning:
Oh, would that the world would believe Me! Were all the things that lie enshrined within the heart of Baha, and which the Lord, His God, the Lord of all names, hath taught Him, to be unveiled to mankind, every man on earth would be dumbfounded. – Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 176.
This quote reminded me of Christ’s words in John 16:12, “I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.” But then Baha’u’llah continues on to describe, in general, what those things are:
How great the multitude of truths which the garment of words can never contain! How vast the number of such verities as no expression can adequately describe, whose significance can never be unfolded, and to which not even the remotest allusions can be made! How manifold are the truths which must remain unuttered until the appointed time is come! – Ibid., p. 176.
“… until the appointed time is come,” Baha’u’llah wrote. How many times have we wished to know a thing, and when finding it out, would have wished we hadn’t known? Or vice versa? Regardless, if and when God wants us to know a thing, He will let us know. If not in other ways, definitely through His messengers. Just as Christ said, “I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.” – John 10:14.
Baha’u’llah explained why the messengers of God, who are privy to all knowledge, do not release it all at once:
Even as it hath been said: “Not everything that a man knoweth can be disclosed, nor can everything that he can disclose be regarded as timely, nor can every timely utterance be considered as suited to the capacity of those who hear it.” – Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 176.
It is the wise person who follows this advice. How many times do we find our foot in our mouth when uttering untimely, inappropriate words!
If that were the end of the quote we could be satisfied and say, “Okay, point made, watch what you say and when you say it, whom you say it to, and why.” I would say especially the prophets and messengers of God would choose their words carefully, after all, posterity may look upon those words with a whole other meaning than intended.
Baha’u’llah’s quotation goes on to explain that the release of knowledge is relative to the ability of the recipient to comprehend it:
Of these truths some can be disclosed only to the extent of the capacity of the repositories of the light of Our knowledge, and the recipients of Our hidden grace. We beseech God to strengthen thee with His power, and enable thee to recognize Him Who is the Source of all knowledge, that thou mayest detach thyself from all human learning, for, “what would it profit any man to strive after learning when he hath already found and recognized Him Who is the Object of all knowledge?” Cleave to the Root of Knowledge, and to Him Who is the Fountain thereof, that thou mayest find thyself independent of all who claim to be well versed in human learning, and whose claim no clear proof, nor the testimony of any enlightening book, can support. – Ibid., pp. 176-177.
Baha’u’llah explained this when he said:
The Revelation of which I am the bearer is adapted to humanity’s spiritual receptiveness and capacity; otherwise, the Light that shines within me can neither wax nor wane. Whatever I manifest is nothing more or less than the measure of the Divine glory which God has bidden me reveal. – quoted by Shoghi Effendi in The World Order of Baha’u’llah, p. 60.
Why couldn’t Christ tell us everything? Because humanity didn’t have the capacity to handle it in the year 1 AD, nor during the time of Muhammad, nor fully even now. We learn what we can absorb a little at a time, so as to move forward and not backward. Besides knowing what we know, when we know it, there is something to be said for being an intern following the all-skilled physician on rounds, as Baha’u’llah said:
The Prophets of God should be regarded as physicians whose task is to foster the well-being of the world and its peoples, that, through the spirit of oneness, they may heal the sickness of a divided humanity. To none is given the right to question their words or disparage their conduct, for they are the only ones who can claim to have understood the patient and to have correctly diagnosed its ailments. No man, however acute his perception, can ever hope to reach the heights which the wisdom and understanding of the Divine Physician have attained. – Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 80.