O God, my God! This Thy handmaid is calling upon Thee, trusting in Thee, turning her face unto Thee, imploring Thee to shed Thy heavenly bounties upon her, and to disclose unto her Thy spiritual mysteries, and to cast upon her the lights of Thy Godhead.
O my Lord! Make the eyes of my husband to see. Rejoice Thou his heart with the light of the knowledge of Thee, draw Thou his mind unto Thy luminous beauty, cheer Thou his spirit by revealing unto him Thy manifest splendors.
O my Lord! Lift Thou the veil from before his sight. Rain down Thy plenteous bounties upon him, intoxicate him with the wine of love for Thee, make him one of Thy angels whose feet walk upon this earth even as their souls are soaring through the high heavens. Cause him to become a brilliant lamp, shining out with the light of Thy wisdom in the midst of Thy people. Verily, Thou art the Precious, the Ever-Bestowing, the Open of Hand.
At the dawn of every day my husband and I take time to pray together. During this sacred time we pray for many things, including for one another. It is worth noting that as Bahá’ís, we have the bounty of reciting prayers revealed by the Central Figures of our Faith. Currently I am drawn to the above prayer, commonly referred to as “the prayer for husbands”; and recently when trying to recall it from memory, I was struck by one line:
Rejoice Thou his heart with the light of the knowledge of Thee, draw Thou his mind unto Thy luminous beauty…
I repeated this striking passage to myself over and over again, and I was moved by the realization that I have been asking the Divine to rejoice my husband’s heart with the knowledge of God and to draw his mind unto the luminous beauty of the Almighty. This passage commanded my attention. It seems this prayer, which I consider words provided to humanity as a guide from a Higher Power, is counter to what I have been taught for most of my life. That is, that the mind is the receptacle for knowledge and the heart is drawn to beauty.
My intention is not to create a false dichotomy. In fact, I think most people would agree that beauty and knowledge are both valuable attributes that impact a person’s heart and mind in a variety of ways. Rather, my intention is to illustrate two things I have found quite powerful within the Bahá’í Writings—to ponder in one’s heart and draw one’s mind to beauty. It was this prayer which brought these concepts back to the forefront of my thoughts. In this first of two posts we will look at the first concept: to ponder in one’s heart.
O CHILDREN OF MEN!
Know ye not why We created you all from the same dust? That no one should exalt himself over the other. Ponder at all times in your hearts how ye were created. Since We have created you all from one same substance it is incumbent on you to be even as one soul, to walk with the same feet, eat with the same mouth and dwell in the same land, that from your inmost being, by your deeds and actions, the signs of oneness and the essence of detachment may be made manifest. Such is My counsel to you, O concourse of light! Heed ye this counsel that ye may obtain the fruit of holiness from the tree of wondrous glory.
~Bahá’u’lláh, The Arabic Hidden Words #68
Were a man to ponder in his heart he would, free of all attachment to the world, hasten unto the Most Great Light and would purge and purify himself from the dust of vain imaginings and the smoke of idle fancy.
~Bahá’u’lláh, Tablets of Baha’u’llah, p. 41
Behold, how many are the mysteries that lie as yet unravelled within the tabernacle of the knowledge of God, and how numerous the gems of His wisdom that are still concealed in His inviolable treasuries! Shouldest thou ponder this in thine heart, thou wouldst realize that His handiwork knoweth neither beginning nor end.
~Bahá’u’lláh, The Kitab-i-Iqan, p. 166
Were these people, wholly for the sake of God and with no desire but His good-pleasure, to ponder the verses of the Book in their heart, they would of a certainty find whatsoever they seek.
~Bahá’u’lláh, The Kitab-i-Iqan, p. 173
Reference is made to pondering in one’s heart 58 times in the published and authenticated Writings of Bahá’u’lláh (this does not include the works of other Central Figures). Can you guess how many times we are called to ponder in the mind (throughout the same Writings)? Once. One time.
O people of the Bayan…. Call ye to mind and ponder upon their deeds and words, their stations and merits and the things they brought to pass when He Who conversed on Sinai unloosed His tongue, when there was a blast on the Trumpet, whereupon all that are in heaven and on earth swooned away except such as are reckoned among the letters of affirmation.
~Bahá’u’lláh, Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 103
I cannot help but wonder about the implications of such a summons. We are urged to ponder in our hearts about all things, every day. Do I do this? Do I even know what it means to ponder in my heart?
I understand pondering to be quiet, contemplative, and open reflection. Understood in this way, I liken pondering to meditation. Meditation is a concept I am familiar with, even though I do not engage in it as often as I would like. Yet, I have no problem spending my entire day analyzing and thinking critically about topics that may or may not benefit myself or others. What would it look like for me to tone down my critical thinking and increase my pondering? How would I feel? Who would I be? How would I live? How would you live? How would we live together?
I guess what I seek is balance. It is clear that there is room for analyzing and thinking critically. Yet, there is a deep need to ponder in my heart, and in doing so, find a certainty, a quiet, a peace. Find mySelf.
In the next post, I will share some reflections on the second concept: drawing one’s mind to beauty.