Baha’u’llah refers to the heart throughout his writings, and places a great deal of importance on it. For example, he says in Arabic hidden word no 59 that the heart is his home: “O child of existence, your heart is my home, sanctify it for my appearance, your spirit is my place of revelation, purify it for my manifestation.” And he says in the Kitab-i-Iqan that the heart is the place where he unfolds his mysteries to a person: “O my brother, when a true seeker determineth to take the step of search in the path leading to the knowledge of the Ancient of Days, he must, before all else, cleanse and purify his heart, which is the seat of the revelation of the inner mysteries of God…”
If the heart is Baha’u’llah’s home and the place where he discloses divine mysteries, then it is important to establish what exactly the heart is. In the West, we think of the heart as being the locus of a person’s emotions. However, for Baha’u’llah, the heart is much more than that. In fact, it is really quite extraordinary what he considers the heart to be. I came to understand this through reading Jean-Marc Lepain’s research work Archeology of the Kingdom of God, which is available for download from the Baha’i Library Online. Lepain discusses this issue on pp137-141.
Lepain analysed Baha’u’llah’s language from the famous opening paragraph of the Tablet of the True Seeker in the Kitab-i-Iqan and concluded that, despite Baha’u’llah’s varied use of terms, the text contained a hidden consistency of doctrine. Lepain was able to identify three key aspects that participate in the functioning of the human being: the psyche (nafs), which constitutes the animal self; the heart (qalb), which is the seat of human intuition; and the soul (ruh) or essence (dhat), which is the authenitic individuality of the person, their true identity and personality (not to be confused with the psychic indentity and personality of the nafs, which dies).
What, then, is the heart? The heart is not just a passive organ where we experience emotions, it is like the brain in that it is an organ of knowledge. For example, Baha’u’llah quotes the saying:
“Knowledge is a light which God casteth into the heart of whomsoever He willeth.” It is this kind of knowledge which is and hath ever been praiseworthy, and not the limited knowledge that hath sprung forth from veiled and obscured minds. This limited knowledge they even stealthily borrow one from the other, and vainly pride themselves therein!The Kitáb-i-Íqán
This shows that the heart is an organ of knowledge. But it does not work in the same way as the intellect. It does not function like the rational mind where we engage in mental effort. Rather, the heart intuitively experiences knowledge, which is given to us as a bounty from God. This shows that the heart is the seat of intuitive knowledge. The heart is the organ we use for our spiritual interpreting of the Word of God and of reality. It is the organ we use for our creative imagination; that is, where we make our own images out of the metaphors, similies and stories that Baha’u’llah includes in his writings. As a result of this intuitive activity, the heart becomes the seat of the revelation of divine mysteries, which is why Baha’u’llah likens it to Mount Sinai, where Moses received his revelation.
In order for the heart to carry out these spiritual activities, it needs to be regularly maintained. That is why it is likened to a mirror that needs to be cleansed of dust, so that the light can shine in it. It needs to be detached from worldly strangleholds, such as love and hate. This maintenance is carried out through daily devotions, in which we keep in touch with Baha’u’llah and the higher realities and allow them to penetrate our being and illumine our understanding.
The above clarifies why many of Baha’u’llah’s writings do not contain text that has the purpose of explaining things. Mystical tablets like the Holy Mariner, for example, and many other works, or parts of works, contain stories or imagery that are difficult to make out. These works are written so that the believer can engage with Baha’u’llah on a higher level, through the creative imagination of the heart.