The Mirror of the Heart by Baptiste Ensé
“Happy are those who have purified their heart sufficiently so that it may serve as a mirror to Divinity, because Divinity itself will be a mirror to them.”
THROUGHOUT his many writings, Louis Claude de Saint-Martin invites us to clean our inner mirror constantly so as to rediscover its original purity. We always carry this mirror within ourselves, and for good reason since it refers to the soul or the heart of our being.
Soul or heart are two terms almost always used with little distinction in the Unknown Philosopher’s works, and in the discussion at hand, they seem to be synonymous. In The New Man, it is the heart that is, in effect, the mirror. “Happy are those who have purified their heart sufficiently so that it may serve as a mirror to Divinity.” In About the Spirit of Things, the mirror is the human soul. “The soul can only bear witness to God’s love and sacredness to the degree it has become a clean and clear mirror.”
With the heart or soul as a mirror, we are faced with a strange optical puzzle, and we need to understand its mechanisms if we wish to work on the heart’s purification or on polishing the secret mirror of our being, as the Unknown Philosopher advocated.
The two quotations above bring to light a real distinction between the initial source the mirror should reflect and the reflection of this very same source. We intend to analyze the relationship between the source, mirror, and reflection.
The Light of the Word
Our heart exists only because it was uttered by the Divine Word. How could the Grand Architect have done without Its great creative fire to give us life? The great Divine Word will forever remain God’s creativeinstrument. Consequently, it is also the “central and radical fire” of our being, in the etymological sense of the term, because radical comes from the Latin radix meaning “root.” The sacred fire of the Divine Word will forever be the eternal root of our being. Of course, it permanently utters the heart or mirror into existence but it doesn’t rest there; it desires to go “further.” The Divine Word seeks to manifest its reflection through the human mirror. And, having uttered our existence, this noble and Divine flame also became established in the sanctuary of our heart, there to communicate its light, life, and love.
Light radiates without impediments from the sacred flame when it burns calmly in our heart; Saint-Martin often likens the Divine fire of the Word to the “sanctuary fire,” while insisting on the profound dignity of this human mirror called upon to reflect on the grandeur of “infinite light.”
However, the Word not only communicates light, but life as well: “This ever present fire is the Divine spark that animates humans.” It is a living and life-giving force, a Divine impulse necessary for the generation of a reflection that is to emerge from our mirror when it is pure. As the Unknown Philosopher so concisely and marvelously explains, the “Word is the universal hymn of love.”
However, while this majestic Light of the Grand Architect is the incontestable Source the mirror is to reflect, it would be wrong to liken this mirror too much to a simple inert recipient, rigid and lacking activity.
On the contrary, the soul or heart is above all “the living sensation of their nature,” and just as gustatory cells taste and joyously recognize the most delicate of foods, so an irreproachable heart will experience the greatest joys of feeling the perpetually new nuances of the Supreme God’s love.
The original soul or heart is therefore a pure vase, living and transparent like a mirror, and capable of feeling and assimilating the rays of the Divine Word. It is the sacred sanctuary where this vital and luminous Source is carefully “prepared” before being refracted for its manifestation.
A Spiritual Reflection of God
The mirror is not the reflection. What is seen in the mirror is an image or reflection of the Source. The Grand Architect wanted to emanate the hosts of spiritual beings who are the mirrors. “They reflect the dazzling clarity of their Eternal Source and form like temples arranged in space within the greater immensity so that the immensity is filled with the Eternal’s praise and glory.”
The expression worth stressing here is: spiritual beings form temples, temples raised to the glory of God. This is the last link or final word of the story of our “optical mechanism.” The temple is the spiritual reflection, the luminous reflection of the Divine Source, and human beings are no exception to the rule. The reflection appearing in the mirror when it is pure is the temple or spiritual body of the soul, and its garment of light is fashioned after the image of God.
But how could this garment of the heart not be in the image of God, being after all, the pure reflection of the Divine Source? When it is seen as the manifestation of the Eternal’s glory, it takes on the name of glorious body or body of glory. Sometimes, Saint-Martin simply calls it spirit. So, in that sense, “the soul is the true heart of the spirit.”10 In other words, the heart, or soul, is truly the heart of the spiritual temple, the heart of the temple of light whose stones have been erected to the glory or in the image of the Grand Architect. It now calls for understanding the reasons why this spiritual temple should reflect the Divine Source perfectly, and why it is so necessary for this temple to be built in the exact image of God.
In the first place, it appears that Divinity does not go against the principle of revelation inherent in all beings. It aspires to reveal itself, to want to know itself, and it is because beings, like mirrors, reflect its image that it becomes conscious of itself. Here is the reason why human beings saw their original temple fashioned in the exact image of God. Here also is why it seems so necessary to make sure the mirror of the heart is pure if we wish to cooperate with the revealed plan, this “supreme plan that calls on us to assist God to know Itself in its creations and effects, and who can only do so by finding pure mirrors around It, on which It is able to see Its own rays reflected.”11 The integral and spiritual reflection that makes the mirror human allows God to not only become aware of Itself since he mirror sends back Its image, but also allows us to become conscious of God’s existence, since the human mirror projects or is clothed by this noble and majestic Divine image.
But there’s another reason that equally justifies the necessary accord between the spiritual temple and Divine Source. Moreover, Saint-Martin makes it one of the essential elements of the Tradition he set out to teach, and he explains it this way in The Ways of the Sages: “Humans exist only to prove that there is a Supreme Agent. They have been placed in the darkness of Creation only to confirm, through their own light, its existence, and to convince all those who have wanted to or would like to ignore it.”12
The idea no doubt disturbed the Unknown Philosopher’s contemporaries as such as it could clash with our thinking today. But the foregoing quotation was, after all, never intended to be divulged to the public; it was more cautiously meant for the Brothers of the Elus-Cohens, an organization in which Saint-Martin held a prominent position, as we know.
Who then were those who wanted to ignore the Supreme Agent’s existence? They were members of several classes of spiritual beings emanated before human beings who came to forget God’s existence through their wrong conduct, and whose spiritual healing had rightly been granted to the human soul.
Why did the Grand Architect place the human soul in the darkness of Creation, as the quotation suggests? To govern the universe in the name of the Grand Architect, by virtue of the powers invested in it by the Word, because the universe imprisons its first beings while remaining as the chosen instrument to ensure its healing. And so these first beings could have educated themselves about the nature of Divine Reality by contemplating the soul as God’s emissary or representative placed in the darkness of the Universe; by contemplating the glory of the luminous reflection which the mirror’s purity should have radiated; by contemplating the garment of light or original temple of a human being who was created to be a reduced image of God, a symbol, a testimony, copy, book, or living explanation of the Supreme God. This noble reflection, shining from within the human sanctuary, should have been proof of the entire Divine Tradition. And so it is not only about an ideal for our soul, but about its original mission, and it is certainly the reason why the Unknown Philosopher wrote in his Green Book that ''The most beautiful state of the soul is when she best represents the source from which she descended.”13
An Unfortunate Opaqueness
But what happened to make the human soul turn away so brutally from its mission? It was no doubt endowed with considerable powers, strength, and privileges because it was nothing less than the Word of God, which it was called upon to manifest in the universe.
However the soul was also given free will. It had choice. Instead of basing all its joy and power on the light of the Word that burnt in its heart, the soul enjoyed another light, an adulterous light of a kind for which it was not created. This adulterous light is matter, animated and illuminated by the Sun, planets, and a myriad number of stars, and whose function had been solemnly entrusted. It is not that matter is bad in itself. God gave it as an instrument of healing. The false ideas born from the material world prove to be the dangers for the heart: pride, avarice, envy, anger, and all those things that keep us mercilessly riveted to the vanity of this world.
The heart was created as a dwelling of God and Its vitalizing Word exclusively. After the Fall it became the place of our cold and illusory ideas, and our exaggerated fascinations. These illusions have so absorbed our hearts that they have tarnished the mirror completely and even smothered the flame or sacred light of the Divine Word.
The consequences are certainly not an act of arbitrary divine punishment. They are perfectly natural when the luminous Source is violently suppressed, when the mirror is tarnished until it is opaque. Isn’t it natural that the reflection becomes blurred as well and ends up even disappearing?
Without the capacities of the temple of light, how could the soul honor its mission? How could it honor its God and represent It in the world? “If you extinguish the human soul or if you let it glaze over through inaction, it has no God anymore and there is no more God in the universe.”14
Purgatory of the Heart
For the dull heart to rediscover its lost activity and manifest anew the beautiful reflection of God, it must allow the eternal flame of the Divine Word within to be rekindled. There is no alternative. Each person will understand how much true humility is required here because the soul is too weak to decide by itself the conditions or even the time of the noble flame’s resurrection. Each will also understand how much the Grand Architect remains as absolute Master of all initiation. Who other than It would have the strength to re-ignite the Divine Flame? Certainly not the soul, paralyzed through spiritual inactivity.
Nevertheless, the “wick” can always be found in the depths of the heart, even though “extinguished,” and we were given prayer to implore the divine warmth to embrace it anew, to earnestly ask that the soul be initiated for always into the sweetness of the Divine Fire which contains all.
We read in Man of Desire what God seems to be saying to the loving heart: “Whosoever desires to love me, I shall ignite a fire in their heart having all the intensity of the Sun; and their whole being will become resplented with the light.15 Certainly this promise allows us to glimpse great hopes, but the old personality and its indomitable illusions are again an obstacle to the manifestation of the resplendent light. For this reason the fire of the Word will be reborn slowly and gradually with wisdom among the debris and innumerable obstacles of our heart. Cooperating in the purification of the inner mirror also means accepting that the sacred fire of the Word itself will consume the smallest traces of the old personality so that from its ashes, a new one is born.
Cooperating in the purification of the inner mirror means accepting theurgical action in the original sense of the word (Theos, God; our gia, work). Theurgy is the work of God—the central and internal work which takes place in the heart of our being and which is the operative action of God. It has nothing to do with superficial and ostentatious practices of bad repute. This is why certain warnings given to the new candidate are sometimes more serious. “Woe to one who does not construct the spiritual temple on the solid foundation of the heart in constant self sacrifice and purification by the sacred fire.”
The theurgical fire of the Word must sweep everything away in its path: pride, avarice, envy, laziness…everything, including anger. It will empty the heart of everything that is not of God because the Action of this Divine Fire, as we have understood, is supposed to be cleansing and painful before becoming the luminous, calm, and joyous Source that the cleaned mirror will reflect.
Reading Saint-Martin suggests that prayer is the most efficient means Divine Action has of accomplishing its task, and with it the hope of seeing the transparency of our heart manifest the new and longed-for edifice.
We only have prayer left, of course, but we also have study, the will to perfect ourselves, and the encouragements gained from the works of the Unknown Philosopher: “You must be the mirror of the Eternal. Yes, the mirror and the active reflection of God’s love.17
Please Note: All quotations in this article are extracts from the works of Louis Claude de Saint-Martin.
Saint-Martin, Louis Claude de. The New Man (Le Tremblay, France: Diffusion Rosicrucienne, 1992) § 36.
—. Of the Spirit of Things, vol. I (Le Tremblay, France: Diffusion Rosicrucienne, 1993) “False arguments taken from nature, etc.”, p. 98.
—. The Ministry of Man the Spirit, (Le Tremblay, France: Diffusion Rosicrucienne, 1992) p. 327.
The New Man, op. cit, § 11.
The Ministry of Man the Spirit, op. cit., “Of the Word,” p. 343
—. The natural table of correspondences which exist God, humanity and the universe (Le Tremblay, France: Diffusion Rosicrucienne, 2001) p. 314.
The Ministry of Man the Spirit, op. cit., “Of the Word,” p. 408
—. Of the Spirit of Things, vol. II, (Le Tremblay, France: Diffusion
Rosicrucienne,1993) “Key of the head, key of the soul,” p. 78.
—. Man of Desire (Paris, France: Editions du Rocher, 1979) § 132.
Of the Spirit of Things, vol. II, op. cit., “Key of the head, key of the soul,” p. 78.
Of the Spirit of Things, vol. I, op. cit., “Of the Spirit of Mirrors, etc.”, p. 44.
—. The Ways of the Sages, posthumous works (Le Tremblay, France: Diffusion Rosicrucienne, 2000) p. 16.
—. My Green Book (Paris, France: Cariscript, 1991) § 154.
Man of Desire, op. cit. 12
Ibid., § 198.
—. My historical and philosophical portrait (Paris, France: Julliard, 1961) § 427.
The New Man, op. cit., § 28
From Pantacle No. 4 2004