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I had this idea that the folks at BahaiTeachings.org ought to ask all their contributors to write about a favorite quote from the Baha’i writings. They said “Excellent! You first.” So I picked a doozy.
Baha’u’llah, the prophet-founder of the Faith, revealed a very small, succinct book called The Hidden Words. The Baha’i writings say that this small book “contains the essences of the words of the prophets of the past clothed in the garment of brevity for the teaching and spiritual guidance of the people of the world.”- Abdu’l-Baha.
Here’s the very first ‘Hidden Word’:
O SON OF SPIRIT! My first counsel is this: Possess a pure, kindly and radiant heart, that thine may be a sovereignty ancient, imperishable and everlasting. – The Hidden Words, p. 1.
Baha’u’llah wrote the book in a unique, mystical voice, as if God himself is speaking to humanity. He points us towards the nucleus of spirituality; wrapped up in bite-sized little koans or meditations, each one filled with what I find to be profound truths.
Written shortly after Baha’u’llah spent two years as a wandering dervish, The Hidden Words emerged after a solitary period of praying, meditating and living with the Sufi mystics in the remote mountains of Kurdistan. I find a beautiful, meditative, mystical aspect to these writings that goes to the core of who we really are.
The idea of this Hidden Word is quite simple: Possess a pure, kindly and radiant heart. [NOTE: For fun, simplicity and for the purposes of this here website I’ll refer to it from now on as a “PKR” heart ™.] Pretty simple, right? Sounds doable. Good advice for followers of all faiths and even those without a belief in the divine.
Whenever I feel a bit overwhelmed or disconnected, I think about this quote and look to my own heart. Kind of a ‘heart-check’, in a way. Is my heart ‘pure’, ‘kindly’ and/or ‘radiant’? Are these qualities reflected in my actions? Most often the answer is ‘nope’, I’m afraid to say.
Certainly not ‘pure’, with all the selfish bunk I’ve got spinning around inside of me most of the time. “Kindly?” Only occasionally. (You can ask my wife.) And I’m not really sure yet how to make my heart ‘radiant’, but it’s a terrific image to visualize, don’t you think?
That little examination I find to be a helpful tool in setting an intention of how to be in the world. It reminds me to keep working on my own heart.
I consider the wonderful people I’ve met in my life who have PKR hearts. Those are the folks I most admire. They have a glow, a spiritual aura that you can see in their eyes and feel the second you come into their presence. People like Thich Nhat Hanh, Gandhi, Mother Theresa and, wait for it, Yoda.
My son Walter recently learned and memorized this Hidden Word. That got me to thinking about children and the fact that they radiate purity and kindliness in such a natural way. Isn’t it funny that we spend our lives trying to get back to what we exhibited so effortlessly as kids?
And why should we focus on these virtues? The second part of this Hidden Word answers that question:
“That thine may be a sovereignty ancient, imperishable and everlasting.”
OK, so this becomes a bit of a tougher nut to crack, philosophically. In my understanding, the Baha’i Faith has no concept of a place called ‘Hell’. So what does that make this physical realm? It’s just the first stop along our path, a workshop for our spiritual development, only one waypoint in an infinite journey. Our souls will continue to grow, flourish and move towards our creator through infinite worlds of creation.
I believe allowing our hearts to become totally “PKR” means our soul’s ‘sovereignty’ will become eternal and glorious, making our journey deeper and richer. The Baha’i teachings tell us that when we die, our bodies pass away — but our spiritual reality lives on. In other words, the only thing we really take with us when we leave this planet are our PKR hearts.