In the Beginning was a Word: How Language Weaves Reality Together

This work attempts to study the central function of language in our spiritual development, returning again to applying the tools and knowledge I had acquired in some of my fields of specialization—literature and linguistics. Focused on what is the most critical tool with which the Creator through His Manifestations brings about the enlightenment and transformation of humankind, this work demonstrates that though social change is effected with deeds and example, not words alone, it is the articulation of the patterns of behavior by the Manifestations that instigates such actions. 

In the preface to this work, I cite the following passage from the Law?-i-Maqsúd by Bahá’u’lláh regarding the power of the word: “No man of wisdom can demonstrate his knowledge save by means of words. This showeth the significance of the Word as is affirmed in all the Scriptures, whether of former times or more recently. For it is through its potency and animating spirit that the people of the world have attained so eminent a position. Moreover words and utterances should be both impressive and penetrating. However, no word will be infused with these two qualities unless it be uttered wholly for the sake of God and with due regard unto the exigencies of the occasion and the people” (Tablets of Baha’u’llah, p. 172). 

Over the course of  twelve chapters, I employ a number of tables and charts to demonstrate the means by which language has transformed society. I have also attempted to demonstrate the critical role language has in its power to divide us when we cannot communicate, and unite us once we share a common means of consulting with one another, thereby sharing our hopes, our concerns, and convictions. Indeed, so vital is this distinctively human power that Shoghi Effendi has observed that devising a universal auxiliary language is one of the two signs of the coming of age of humankind referred to by Bahá’u’lláh in the conclusion of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas: 

 Concerning the “second” sign which Bahá’u’lláh indicates to have been revealed in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, Shoghi Effendi states that Bahá’u’lláh, “…in His Most Holy Book, has enjoined the selection of a single language and the adoption of a common script for all on earth to use, an injunction which, when carried out, would, as He Himself affirms in that Book, be one of the signs of the ‘coming of age of the human race’” (quoted in Notes, #193, ¶ 189, p. 250) . 

This study thus outlines the out-of-African theory about how the human race began as a unified community until, as a result of the diaspora and spread into all parts of the planet, we established distinctly different ethnicities, customs, and languages. And now, having populated the earth and having established a means for communicating instantaneously with any people any place on the planet (as prophesied by Bahá’u’lláh), we need to re-establish our common heritage by means of choosing a common language and a common script to consult about our common needs, shared problems, and collective solutions.  

It would be needless and tedious here to recount all that this text attempts—it proceeds from rudimentary description of theories about how language develops and how, as a link between souls, it functions as bridge to traverse the otherwise impenetrable gap that exists between two beings operating in association with physical temples. The work eventually narrows its focus on the language of the Manifestations—the Word of God—that force which brings creation into being and weaves together the history of our struggles to achieve the goal of a permanent and lasting peace. 

Employing the analogy of the loom of history, the final chapters explain how the word becomes the warp and woof, which, when woven together, create the fabric onto which the tapestry of our journey towards a World Commonwealth is woven.

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