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You can see the outer world with your eyes and you may see the inner world with your heart.
The Word of God addresses the human heart. If a heart responds to the call of God, it begins to receive the gift of understanding. Insight flowing from the heart has the power to heal.
In the Bible the prophet Isaiah said:
You will be ever hearing, but never understanding; you will be ever seeing, but never perceiving.’ This people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes.
The book of Matthew says:
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God… For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.
Jesus’ apostles Matthew, Mark, John and Paul repeat this same refrain from God to man, the call to understand and perceive with the heart, throughout the Bible—in Isaiah 6:9; Matthew 13:14; Mark 4:12; John 12:40; Acts 28:16; etc.
You’ll find similar advice and guidance in the Baha’i writings; which view the heart as the seat of understanding and as the key that unlocks spiritual perception:
No one can recognize the truth of the Middle Way between the two extreme poles except after attaining unto the gate of the heart and beholding the realities of the worlds, visible and unseen. – The Bab, provisional translation by Nader Saiedi, cited in Gate of the Heart, p. 177.
In The Book of Certitude Baha’u’llah emphatically states:
When a true seeker determineth to take the step of search in the path leading unto the knowledge of the Ancient of Days, he must, before all else, cleanse his heart, which is the seat of the revelation of the inner mysteries of God… – p. 264.
In his Most Holy Book Baha’u’llah asks everyone to listen to the “verses of God,” so their hearts can be “suffused with light:”
Give ear unto the verses of God which He Who is the sacred Lote-Tree reciteth unto you. They are assuredly the infallible balance, established by God, the Lord of this world and the next. Through them the soul of man is caused to wing its flight towards the Dayspring of Revelation, and the heart of every true believer is suffused with light. – p. 73.
This “light of the heart” enables us to be conscious of and understand our essential oneness. Without the light of the heart we might see contradiction in pairs of opposites, rather than their inherent oneness. But how do we cultivate understanding and receive the light of the heart? This kind of understanding is a divine bestowal, not guaranteed by the outward performance of prayers or recitation of writings:
…the reading of the scriptures and holy books is for no other purpose except to enable the reader to apprehend their meaning and unravel their innermost mysteries. Otherwise reading, without understanding, is of no abiding profit unto man. No man, however, can comprehend this except he who is possessed of an understanding heart. – Baha’u’llah, The Book of Certitude, p. 172.
Our job, then, as spiritual beings, is to attain an understanding heart.
The remedy for our lack of understanding, our inability to perceive, is a gift. The gift is light, which is cast into the heart. In his mystical writings, Baha’u’llah wrote:
Knowledge is a light which God casteth into the heart of whomsoever He willeth. Wherefore, a man should make ready his heart that it be worthy of the descent of heavenly grace… – Baha’u’llah, The Four Valleys, p. 54.
Light is a form of energy. According to Abdul-Baha, electromagnetic energy, including light, heat, and vibration, emanates from an unseen reality called the ether. Where the term “ether” appears in Baha’i Writings we often see references to the inner world and electromagnetism. To conclude this essay about the heart and introduce the next one, let’s meditate on these quotes concerning ether, and the ethereal aspect of man’s reality:
This other and inner reality is called the heavenly body, the ethereal form which corresponds to this body. This is the conscious reality which discovers the inner meaning of things, for the outer body of man does not discover anything. The inner ethereal reality grasps the mysteries of existence, discovers scientific truths and indicates their technical application. It discovers electricity, produces the telegraph, the telephone and opens the door to the world of arts. If the outer material body did this, the animal would likewise be able to make scientific and wonderful discoveries, for the animal shares with man all physical powers and limitations. What then is that power which penetrates the realities of existence and which is not to be found in the animal? It is the inner reality which comprehends things, throws light upon the mysteries of life and being, discovers the heavenly Kingdom, unseals the mysteries of God and differentiates man from the brute. Of this there can be no doubt. – Abdul-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, pp. 464-465.