Although I’ve read this passage from the Baha’i teachings many times, one day the phrase “the human heart, which is the recipient of the light of God” caught my eye powerfully:
How often hath the human heart, which is the recipient of the light of God and the seat of the revelation of the All-Merciful, erred from Him Who is the Source of that light and the Well Spring of that revelation. – Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 186.
That night, while I meditated, I reflected on Baha’u’llah’s mystical sentence. In my meditation I saw my mind as still, and my heart as only an instrument for the reflection of whatever it receives. After meditating, my heart rested at the center of some kind of power, surrounded by mercy and love – both attributes and names of God.
I felt the power from those attributes, and told myself “if I can put my heart in this state of calmness, I can reflect something good from God and find the strength to love others.” I let myself be submerged in the power of that spirit for a while, and could feel my heart open with new energy.
In my experience, a lot of time when my heart feels and reflects something, and I start to use my mind to express it, I sense that I never express it well. I know our minds and the language we use to convey our thoughts have limits, especially when it comes to expressing what is in our heart. That’s why it sometimes frustrates me when I expect someone to understand me – to know what is in my heart. In the same way, I realize I can’t fully know what is reflected in other people’s hearts, because they have the same limitations I do.
“The heart knows, the body has no awareness. Whatever we learn through our body, doesn’t teach us about the heart,” according to the Buddha. If we try to approach a person’s heart with just our intellect, we never can touch it. If we try to approach God’s desire for us with only our mind, we can’t understand it either. The Baha’i teachings say that the meaning of the words of God can only be reflected through a “clean heart and a pure mind:”
It is easy to read the Holy Scriptures, but it is only with a clean heart and a pure mind that one may understand their true meaning. Let us ask God’s help to enable us to understand the Holy Books. Let us pray for eyes to see and ears to hear, and for hearts that long for peace. – Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, pp. 58-59.
The next day as I walked in the park with my young son, I asked him “What is your heart reflecting now?” He said “Breeze, birds singing …” Then I asked “how do you feel in your heart?” He said “Joy, happy …” “Do you feel appreciation?” I asked. “Yes,” he said.
If I store memories and feelings of appreciation in my soul, gifts from God, then I have enough to be content, but only if I reflect on the spiritual meaning of things, not just the things themselves. If I look into the feelings in my heart, I start to have questions for myself, and those questions lead me to meaning. When I look deeper, I find that my feelings show me what I am attached to, and help me to see the spiritual meaning hidden in the reflection. To me, daily events are like a lamp, and the spiritual meaning within them is like the light that shines in the lamp. I truly live my life when I discover the spiritual meanings hidden in my own feelings, and turn my heart completely toward the Sun of Truth:
… when man does not open his mind and heart to the blessing of the spirit, but turns his soul towards the material side, towards the bodily part of his nature, then is he fallen from his high place and he becomes inferior to the inhabitants of the lower animal kingdom. … If, on the contrary, the spiritual nature of the soul has been so strengthened that it holds the material side in subjection, then does the man approach the Divine; his humanity becomes so glorified that the virtues of the Celestial Assembly are manifested in him; he radiates the Mercy of God, he stimulates the spiritual progress of mankind, for he becomes a lamp to show light on their path. – Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 31.
There is a power which purifies the mirror from dust and transforms its reflection into intense brilliancy and radiance so that spiritual susceptibilities may chasten the hearts and heavenly bestowals sanctify them. What is the dust which obscures the mirror? It is attachment to the world, avarice, envy, love of luxury and comfort, haughtiness and self-desire; this is the dust which prevents reflection of the rays of the Sun of Reality in the mirror. The natural emotions are blameworthy and are like rust which deprives the heart of the bounties of God. But sincerity, justice, humility, severance, and love for the believers of God will purify the mirror and make it radiant with reflected rays from the Sun of Truth. – Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 244.
As I understand it, our mind exercises free will when we make our choices. We can choose to turn our hearts toward God or turn them toward our egos. To me, our souls resemble a canvas that we paint with our lives. The heart reflects the image for us to paint on it. Our minds can decide if we turn our hearts toward God to reflect what He has ordained for us, or turn our hearts to ourselves to paint what we desire. If we follow the will of God, “… the heart is the throne, in which the Revelation of God the All-Merciful is centered.” – Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 186.