Meaning, Essence, and Latency in the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh and 'Abdu'l-Bahá

By Farhad Sabetan

First presented at the Irfan Colloquia Session #130
Bosch Bahá'í School: Santa Cruz, California
May 22–25, 2015
(see list of papers from #130)

    Concepts such as meaning, essence, inmost self, hidden and manifest, inner meaning, depth of understanding, etc. permeate Bahá'í Sacred Writings. For example, Bahá'u'lláh states: "The Purpose of the one true God, exalted be His glory, in revealing Himself unto men is to lay bare those gems that lie hidden within the mine of their true and inmost selves." Such an apparently simple sentence examines, at once, notions of revelation, manifestation, hidden/appearance, and inmost self. This presentation explores the significance of these concepts and their inter-relationships, especially as they apply to process thinking, nihilism, and teleology. Specifically, in a world where notions such as meaning, sanctity, essence, and depth are questioned, avoided, or otherwise found irrelevant, it is demonstrated that it is precisely the absence of due attention to them that corresponds to distrust, bewilderment, aimlessness and apathy. On the contrary, attention to appearances, superficiality and liquidity of concepts characterize the post-modern society suffering from anarchy on the one hand and extremism on the other.

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