The Conference of the Birds is a story of thirty birds who are all seeking to reach the immortal King. Their guide, the Hoopoe bird, describes to them seven valleys which all must pass through before they can achieve their final destination. It is these seven valleys which Bahá’u’lláh elaborates in His text “The Seven Valleys”.
The word for “valley” in these texts does not mean a lush ravine between mountains. “vádí” refers to what people in the Southwestern US would know as an arroyo: it is a dry river, useful as a guide when making one’s way through a desert.
The following quotes come from two different translations of the Conference of the Birds; all of them are from that book’s Valley of Knowledge (which is also translated as Valley of Understanding, and Valley of Mystic Insight).
When the mystery of the essence of beings reveals itself clearly to [the wayfarer] the furnace of this world becomes a garden of flowers. He who is striving will be able to see the almond in its hard shell. He will no longer be pre-occupied with himself, but will look up at the face of his Friend. In each atom he will see the whole; he will ponder over thousands of bright secrets…
Real knowledge becomes the possession of the true seeker. If it is necessary to seek knowledge in China, then go. But knowledge is distorted by the formal mind, it becomes petrified, like stones. How long must real knowledge continue to be misunderstood? This world, this house of sorrows, is in darkness; but true knowledge is a jewel, it will burn like a lamp and guide you in this gloomy place. If you spurn this jewel you will ever be a prey to regret. If you lag behind you will weep bitter tears. But if you sleep little by night, and fast by day, you may find what you seek. Seek, then, and be lost in the quest.
Of those who dwell in this Valley it is said:
He will perceive the marrow, not the skin -- the self will disappear; then, from within the heart of all he sees, there will ascend the longed-for face of the immortal Friend. A hundred thousand secrets will be known when that unveiled, surpassing Face is shown -- a hundred thousand men must faint and fail till one shall draw aside the secret's veil. Perfected, of rare courage, he must be to dive through that immense, uncharted sea. If you discern such hidden truths and feel joy flood your life, do not relax your zeal! Though thirst is quenched, though you are bathed in bliss beyond all hypothesis, though you should reach the throne of God, implore Him still unceasingly: "Is there yet anymore?"