Upon the inmost reality of each and every created thing [God] hath shed the light of one of His names, and made it a recipient of the glory of one of His attributes. Upon the reality of man, however, He hath focused the radiance of all of His names and attributes, and made it a mirror of His own Self. Alone of all created things man hath been singled out for so great a favor, so enduring a bounty. – Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 27.
O My Brother! A pure heart is as a mirror; cleanse it with the burnish of love and severance from all save God, that the true sun may shine within it and the eternal morning dawn. Then wilt thou clearly see the meaning of “Neither doth My earth nor My heaven contain Me, but the heart of My faithful servant containeth Me.” And thou wilt take up thy life in thine hand, and with infinite longing cast it before the new Beloved One. – Baha’u’llah. The Seven Valleys, p. 21.
In these illuminating passages, Baha’u’llah gives the reader a glimpse into our true nature. Though we may live in a material world, surrounded by superficial pursuits, mundane responsibilities, and at the mercy of natural and social forces we cannot control, we are still spiritual beings.
Baha’u’llah compares God to the sun: exceedingly powerful, life-giving, and incomprehensible. And he compares the human heart to a mirror and its power of reflectivity.
Though it has a definite shape, weight, and position, a mirror has no image of its own and reflects the appearance of whatever it faces. Likewise, when we empty ourselves of egotism and attachment to selfish desires and turn our attention to God, the heart becomes a ready recipient for the rays of the divine Sun, those spiritual attributes of God mentioned in the first passage above. Just as God is merciful, the human heart will reflect a share of that mercy. Just as God is wise, the human heart will to some degree manifest that wisdom. Polishing the mirror of our souls will allow us to reflect the other qualities of God, like generosity, splendor, or justice. In our being and in our actions we can then heed the call of Abdu’l-Baha: to be the Lord’s mercy to man. By transforming our spiritual selves this way, into a clear mirror for the divine light, we can experience the joy of reunion with God.
When we recognize the light of God in our own hearts and in the hearts of others, love takes on a different meaning from the way we hear it talked about it in everyday life. Often, we only speak of love in connection with family, close friends, or romantic partners. And more broadly, we reserve our warm affection for those who resemble us in some way, people who speak like we do, have similar taste in music and movies, have the same nationality or political sympathies, or any number of other commonalities.
Abdu’l-Baha warns us that these forms of love have limits, and can easily pass away. Instead, he says, our love must originate from:
…the ideal of the unity of spirits. This love is attained through the knowledge of God, so that men see the Divine Love reflected in the heart. Each sees in the other the Beauty of God reflected in the soul, and finding this point of similarity, they are attracted to one another in love. This love will make all men the waves of one sea, this love will make them all the stars of one heaven and the fruits of one tree. This love will bring the realization of true accord, the foundation of real unity. – Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 181.
It takes a special kind of gaze to look at others and see them in this way. This kind of perception doesn’t just see people in terms of their physical appearance, social identity, or preferences—instead, this deep spiritual perception sees “with the eye of oneness:”
[The seeker] looketh on all things with the eye of oneness, and seeth the brilliant rays of the divine sun shining from the dawning-point of Essence alike on all created things, and the lights of singleness reflected over all creation. – Baha’u’llah. The Seven Valleys, p. 17.
The Baha’i teachings say that God manifests blessings continuously in every space and in every heart. When we make ourselves ready, those virtues of God can shine brighter within us. Some people appear radiant. Others appear cold. But everyone has the capacity to reflect God’s love, generosity, and wisdom to the world.
Every heart can shine like a mirror, where we can potentially recognize the beauty of God’s light.