Have you ever felt like your heart was on fire? Maybe you fell in love, gazed into the eyes of your new baby, or caught the fire of the love of the divine.
You would definitely recognize that heart-on-fire feeling if you’ve ever had it before. It’s hard to describe, but it kind of feels like your heart warms your entire body and soul with the heat of an internal flame. Do you know what it’s like to sit in front of a blazing hearth on a cold night? Well, that’s what pure love feels like inside.
It’s easy for most of us to understand how we can love another human being—but not always as easy to figure out how to love the unknowable essence of the Creator. The Baha’i teachings say that one of the requirements of being a Baha’i, though, is “becoming enkindled with the fire of the love of God …” – Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 336.
What does that mean?
The symbol of fire has always stood for life, love and health, for energy, transformation and regeneration, for light and warmth. When we feel passion for something or someone, we feel the fiery heat of an enkindled inner flame. We burn with it, that fire of inner feeling, and it sustains us.
To understand it, to comprehend its mystical meanings, I suspect, we need to turn to poetry, to the mystical and to the revelatory:
Set your life on fire. Seek those who fan your flames. – Rumi
… heaven set the fire that burns in our spirits. – Gibran
The Word of God hath set the heart of the world afire; how regrettable if ye fail to be enkindled with its flame! – Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 316.
You’ve probably recognized that inner fire in others. Those who have it burn with passion and enthusiasm for life. They have a contagious ardor for what they do; they live and love with great eagerness. Their excitement, because it generates so much heat, can catch everyone around them on fire, too:
All creatures that exist are dependent upon the Divine Bounty. Divine Mercy gives life itself. As the light of the sun shines on the whole world, so the Mercy of the infinite God is shed on all creatures. As the sun ripens the fruits of the earth, and gives life and warmth to all living beings, so shines the Sun of Truth on all souls, filling them with the fire of Divine love and understanding. – Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 26.
Everyone can access that “fire of divine love and understanding.” It’s simple—just turn your face toward the sun. When you do, it will gradually warm you with its rays:
Likewise, in the spiritual realm of intelligence and idealism there must be a center of illumination, and that center is the everlasting, ever-shining Sun, the Word of God. Its lights are the lights of reality which have shone upon humanity, illumining the realm of thought and morals, conferring the bounties of the divine world upon man. These lights are the cause of the education of souls and the source of the enlightenment of hearts, sending forth in effulgent radiance the message of the glad tidings of the Kingdom of God. In brief, the moral and ethical world and the world of spiritual regeneration are dependent for their progressive being upon that heavenly Center of illumination. It gives forth the light of religion and bestows the life of the spirit, imbues humanity with archetypal virtues and confers eternal splendors. This Sun of Reality, this Center of effulgences, is the Prophet or Manifestation of God. Just as the phenomenal sun shines upon the material world producing life and growth, likewise, the spiritual or prophetic Sun confers illumination upon the human world of thought and intelligence, and unless it rose upon the horizon of human existence, the kingdom of man would become dark and extinguished. – Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 94.
We all owe our lives to that ever-burning fire we call the sun. Without it, nothing could survive. In the same way, we owe our inner lives, the realities of our souls and their attributes and perfections, to that heavenly center of illumination we call God:
Every man trained through the teachings of God and illumined by the light of His guidance, who becomes a believer in God and His signs and is enkindled with the fire of the love of God, sacrifices the imperfections of nature for the sake of divine perfections. – Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 452.
When you start that fire burning in your heart, when you enkindle your soul with the fire of the love of God, you’re on your way to achieving the greatest possible attainment in the world of humanity.