An infant learns pretty soon to recognize her mother, and who she is; but only after that woman has grown, and has had children of her own and watched them grow, can she recognize her mother for who and what she is.
In a similar way, I think the Seven Valleys is a journey of recognition. The One we seek is not distant from us in time or space, but apprehension. As He says:
My creatures are even as the fish of the deep. Their life dependeth upon the water, and yet they remain unaware of that which, by the grace of an omniscient and omnipotent Lord, sustaineth their very existence…1
As we journey, we set about divesting ourselves of these gossamer veils: of opinions, like walls that prison our mind in a particular view of reality; of attachments, like hooks that draw the heart away from the Goal; of heedlessness and lawlessness, which trap our very soul, though we may fail to sense it.
For example, on the subject of unity I look at my own hand. It has five fingers, yet I regard the hand as a whole and definitely call the unit “me”. Yet when the Manifestations say they are One and the same Being, humanity balks. We certainly comprehend the principle of manyness in oneness; of the world of unity existing within the matrix of differentiation. We live and breath these concepts every day! – in fact, mental health depends on them. But when applied to the Manifestations of God, a fundamental disconnect occurs.
I think the Seven Valleys depicts a layer by layer unraveling of the discordant elements which cause this disconnect: by withdrawing our dependency on others as arbiters of truth; by reacquianting the heart with its true love; by loosing the mind from a pinhole view of the world; by looking beyond the shimmering image of the many until we see the unity of the whole.
Bahá’u’lláh, Summons of the Lord of Hosts, para.76↩