This morning, while reading my morning’s obligation of the writings of Baha’u’llah, from The Four Valleys I came across this reference by Baha’u’llah to a poem of Sana’i, a Persian Poet of some 1,000 years ago. Sana’i had written,
“How can feeble reason encompass the Qur”an
or the spider snare a phoenix in his web?
Woulds thou that the mind should not entrap thee?
Teach it the science of the love of God!”
Done with my obligation, after commencing a few chores, I sat to breakfast with a new book from the world of psychology, “Mistakes were Made (but not by me)” by Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson, both eminent researchers of dissonance theory. As I came to the end of a section about our psychological blindspots, they write, “Introspection alone will not help our vision, because it willl simply confirm our self-justifying beliefs that we, personally, cannot be corrupted, coopted, and that our dislike or hatreds of other groups are not irrational. Blind spots enhance our pride and activate our prejudices.” And as I thought the question, “So what, then?” Sana’i’s poem fell clearly into that space, “Wouldst thou that the mind not entrap thee?” Yes, that is the question. “Teach it the science of the love of God”. On this, Baha’u’llah went on, “Wherefore, a man should make ready his heart that it may be worthy of the descent of heavenly grace, and that the bounteous Cup-Bearer may give him to drink of the wine of bestowal from the merciful vessel.”
How would a person cleanse their heart? This question of logical inquiry leads me back to the beginning of another treatiss of Baha’u’llah on the spiritual journey, The Seven Valleys. Here he exhorts, “It is incumbent on the servants that they cleanse the heart – which is the wellspring of divine treaures – from every marking, that they turn away from imitation, which is following the traces of their forefathers and sire, and shut the door of friendliness and enmity upon all the people of the earth.” What, be neither friendly nor hateful? This teaching is to signify that if we let our friendships or our hatreds direct our choices, we will not open that heart to the bounties of God’s knowledge which is love, justice, and unity. In this state, we are not tricked by our tendency to self-justify who are our friends, who are our enemies and what we do because of that, but love them all, more.
This synchrony across 1,000 years makes it clear the effort we humans have been putting into raising ourselves to greater heights of ethical power across all cultures. How absolutely amazing are we.