art ~ spirit ~ transformation

e*lix*ir   #6
autumn 2017



  • His Pen

  • Translations

  • O Nightingales!
    by Nader Saiedi and Anthony A. Lee
  • Tablet addressed to Ali
    by Nader Saiedi
  • Arabic Devotional Writings
    by Stephen Lambden
  • Tablet of the Sun of Reality
    by Stephen Lambden

  • Essays

  • The Art of Translation
    by Brian Miller
  • Signs: Quranic Themes in the Writings of the Báb
    by Todd Lawson

  • Personal Reflections on Bahá’í Texts

  • O Pen!
    by Sandra Lynn Hutchison

  • Photo Narrative

  • Bahá’u’lláh in the Holy Land: Dwellings, Gardens, and Resting Place
    by Dean Wilkey

  • Voices of Iran

  • A Glimpse of the Glorious Landscape of Freedom
    by Rojin Ghavami

  • Art

  • Calligraphy
    by Dr. Muhammad Afnan

  • Looking Back on Books

  • Days of Remembrance: Selections from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh for Bahá’í Holy Days

  • ← Previous       Next →

    Decorated pen case and pen case insert belonging to Bahá’u’lláh
          Photo Credit: © Bahá’í International Community

    Tablet of the Sun of Reality

    Provisional Translation by Stephen Lambden

    O He!

    The Sun of Reality is the Divine Word, the purpose of which is the instruction of the denizens of the domains of spiritual meaning and exposition. It is centered in Him for He is the Spirit of Reality and the celestial Water of mystic meaning, which hath ever been and will forever give, by virtue of His assistance and beneficence, life to everything. And His light, as evident in every mirror, reflects His own color. For example, in the mirrors of the hearts of wise sages, He manifested divine wisdom. It is likewise in the mirrors of the hearts of the mystic knowers, He manifested the wonders of mystical insight and the realities of proofs. All the peoples of the world, and whatsoever is evident therein, are brought into being through the rising up of the Divine Manifestation. From Him, the Most Beautiful Divine Names and the Most Elevated Divine Attributes are made manifest. From Him, all things become manifest. By virtue of the Sun of the Word of God, reality is brought into being, for the Most Beautiful Divine Names and the Most Elevated Divine Attributes will for evermore circumambulate around His Word. He is the Divine Fire! And it is on this account, that whatsoever is not of God is burned away from within the inmost depths of the hearts of such yearning lovers as are consumed by this fire. This is so on account of the conflagration precipitated by this fire. Indeed! It is the very reality of the celestial Water which is evident in this fire. Its outer reality is fire while its inmost depth is light.

    It is on account of this Water that all things hath eternally remained and will for evermore exist: “Through Water are all things living” (Quran.21:30). We beseech God that we may drink of this divinely sweet water through this spiritual Fountain of Paradise and we may be detached from the world and its inhabitants upon the Pathway of His Love.

    And may the Glory be upon the people of Bahá!


    Translated from Persian and most likely revealed during Bahá’u’lláh’s years in Akka (Acre), this untitled Tablet, provisionally entitled ‘Tablet of the Sun of Reality’, takes as its theme the divine person of the Messenger or Manifestation of God, who is described as the radiant Sun of Reality. As the Word of God, He shines throughout the universe as a great celestial orb, enlightening all who believe in His divine reality. In the Quran, it is mentioned that water is the source of all life. In the Bible, too, water has an important symbolic function in the creation of the world. In this Tablet revealed by Bahá’u’lláh, such life-giving water is identified with the mystical power of the Word of God. This “water” of mystical insight bestows spiritual “life” upon all things.

    In this Tablet, the Manifestation of God is not only identified with life-giving water, but also with a captivating divine fire, both elements being closely related facets of the same Reality and engendering spiritual rapture and illumination. Also true of this divine Reality is that while its outer appearance is fire, its essence is light. In this Tablet, the spiritual font of Salsabil, mentioned in the Quran 76:17-18, is interpreted figuratively as a fount of spirituality.

    This brief but probing Tablet outlines the relationships between the divine Sun of Reality, the Word of God, and the Manifestation of God who is the Divine Man, and illuminates the symbolic meanings of the Water of Life and the all-consuming Fire of the Divine Beloved.

    Bio:   Dr. Stephen Lambden received his Ph.D. in Religious Studies from the University of Newcastle upon Tyne in 2002, where he submitted a thesis about Islamo-biblica (Isra’iliyyat, Israelitica) and the emergence of the Bábí-Bahá’í Interpretation of the Bible. He has specialized in Abrahamic religious texts and Semitic languages (Hebrew, Arabic, etc) and has lectured in Bábí-Bahá’í Studies at Newcastle University and elsewhere. He is currently a Research Scholar at University of California, Merced. Among his many publications are contributions to Encyclopedia Iranica, Encyclopedia of Language and Linguistics, and a recent contribution on “Islam” to the Blackwell Companion to the Bible and Culture (Oxford, 2006).