Let me give you the mirror, but if you see some fault on its face, do not blame the mirror, but something reflected onto the mirror. Know that it is your own image; find the fault in yourself!
— Excerpt from The Conversations (Maqalat)
of Shams of Tabriz
When a mirror is stained with dirt, it cannot properly reflect the image that appears in it. The human heart is the index of the purity of the individual’s spiritual system. It is its hologram. Everything that we experience as a problem is within ourselves. Consequently the solution to the problem is also within us. We can heal. We can forgive. We can bless. We can create abundance. All of this is possible through the positive action of polishing, purifying, clearing, cleaning what is within us. All toxic emotions smudge the heart. These have the power to neutralise and erase those psychic toxins. The heart, likewise, is capable of becoming rusted by impressions of immoralities and by depletion of God consciousness and has, therefore, to be polished so that it gets clearer and cleaner. As Rumi famously put it:
“Do you not know why your mirror does not glitter?
Because the rust is not cleansed from its surface.”
How does one polish the mirror of the heart? Prophet Mohammad says in a well-known tradition that the polishing of the heart is the act of invoking or remembering God (dhikr). In other words, the more one remembers God and burnishes the mirror of his substance, thereby cleansing it of the stain of forgetfulness that stubbornly clings to it, the more the heart becomes cleaner and clearer. Rumi explains it in this way:
“Through remembrance and meditation, the heart is polished
until the mirror of the heart receives virginal images.”
The purity of the Sufi is due to his constant remembrance of God. The more he remembers God, the more he comes to know Him; and the more he comes to know Him, the more he comes to love Him. This is why the act of polishing the mirror of the heart is the key to entering into a love-relationship with God. The Sufi’s heart, in other words, is like white snow because of its purity, which it has attained through the remembrance of God. In one important tale, Rumi seeks to illustrate this idea in a more concrete way.
He tells the story of a naked man who jumps into a pool of water in order to escape from being stung by a swarm of bees that have been chasing him and will not relent in their efforts to attack him. But since he cannot remain submerged for very long, he resurfaces for air only to find the bees waiting for him so they can resume their assault. The story sheds light on an important point, namely that the bees represent our remembrance for things in this world, while the water represents the act of remembering God. Rumi explains that the heart that is pure not only heads towards the ocean, but it also becomes a part of it....