Introduction by Alison Marshall
In the tablet, Breath of Spirit, Baha'u'llah tells us about metaphysical wonders taking place in the spiritual worlds. We humans cannot witness these happenings ourselves, so Baha'u'llah describes them to us using allegorical language.
Many of Baha'u'llah's writings contain descriptions of how his revelation came from, and impacted on, the spiritual worlds. His revelation is the realisation of the promised Day of God and, as such, has a revolutionary influence on the spiritual worlds and the physical world. In this tablet, Baha'u'llah describes how his revelation was announced in the spiritual worlds and the process by which it came into being there.
Baha'u'llah begins, in the second paragraph, by announcing that the divine springs of life, which have always been hidden, are now available in the Word of his revelation by the decree of God. He underlines the supremacy of his revelation by pointing out that people down through the ages have searched for the fountain of life, but that the water of that fountain comes from the earth and bestows only long life in the physical sense. By contrast, the springs of life that flow from his Word bestow genuine eternal life and come from "the tresses of the beloved". By this, he means that eternal life is found in our attraction to the woman who symbolises the spirit of his revelation.
The word Baha'u'llah uses to refer to that woman is 'houri'. At the beginning of the third paragraph, Baha'u'llah refers to her as the "houri of meaning". Here, he implies that she is the source of meaning for our lives and, indeed, all existence. He then begins to tell the story of how the houri, who had always been hidden from sight in the worlds of God, came to be revealed in the spiritual worlds. He tells how the houri seeks permission from God to reveal herself. However, a voice from the worlds of God points out that no one in creation has the capacity to accept the houri's radiant beauty. God therefore commands that a new creation be brought into existence. Everyone in the spiritual worlds waits with bated breath to see what this new creation will look like.
Baha'u'llah then describes how this new creation was brought into being. First of all, a breeze blows from paradise carrying a mist from the hair of the houri. Several drops of wine from the spring of the houri's beauty condenses in the mist. The hand of God appears and kneads the mist into the water of light and breathes "a pre-existent breath into it". In this way, a new creation comes into being. God then decrees that the people of the spiritual worlds must decorate "the garden of immortality" with lights and silk carpet. Then the houri is given permission to come out from behind the curtain and, when she does, she bestows "true spirit" on everyone in the spiritual worlds and on earth. She tosses her hair, causing some drops to collect on the silk carpet. These drops adorn Baha'u'llah's revelation and are the "the river of love" hidden in his words.
In the last paragraph, Baha'u'llah tells us not to miss out on attaining his water of life and the presence of the houri, by spending our lives concentrating on the physical world. He reiterates that he is explaining the meaning of "the water of life" because it was hidden from us up until now. He expresses the hope that, with the permission of God, we will attain the water in the spring of life, after detaching ourselves from all in heaven and earth, and will return to the wonders of God's grace.