Know that the heart, that is, the heart of the knower of “God”, for the heart of other than he is not called a heart in Sufi terminology, unless metaphorically, as has been said: The heart is a window upon the Lord: why do you call the house of the devil a heart? The name “God” is the comprehensive unity of all of the divine Names. So any heart which comes to know it has come to know all of the Names. But no knower of any of the other Names knows the Name “God”, for the knowledge of these Names does not necessitate its knowledge.
The story has become long and words were drawn out: it is the sum of the mysteries of God, not a heart. Although it, or the heart, comes to exist through the mercy of God, it is nonetheless wider than the mercy of God, because God has let us know that the heart of the servant embraces Him, for He said through the tongue of His Prophet, “Neither My earth nor My heaven embraces Me, but the heart of My believing servant does embrace Me”. In contrast, His mercy does not embrace Him, for its sway is only exercised over contingent beings. And this is a wondrous matter if you understand. When God — as reported in the collections of hadith — undergoes constant changes of form on the Day of Resurrection, i.e., the forms of the beliefs of men in accordance with their receptivities and preparednesses, although in Himself He does not change from what He is in respect of Himself, then hearts which receive theophanies are for Him like containers for water. The water assumes form according to the form of the containers, although in itself it does not change from its essential reality.
To understand the symbol we have mentioned, in order that you might understand the state of Him who is symbolized, for just as water has no shape in itself by which it becomes determined — rather, it takes the shape of its container — in the same way, God, the Absolute, has no particular form in His Essence according to which He manifests Himself. On the contrary, He manifests Himself in the form of the servant who receives the theophany; for theophany only descends upon its loci in accordance with their preparednesses and their ontological receptivities. Likewise, their preparednesses within the plane of objective existence are only the result of their Unseen and “unmade” preparednesses in the ontological level of the Essence’s Knowledge of Itself. So whenever a locus on the plane of objective existence receives a theophany, it only reaches him in the form of his eternal and immutable archetype.
The theophanies of God follow the beliefs of men, and the beliefs of men follow individual ontological preparedness, and individual ontological preparedness is in accordance with the universal unmanifest preparedness, which is the attribute of the immutable archetypes of those who receive the theophany. And the immutable archetypes are the effusion of the Most Holy Emanation, which is the theophany of the Essence in the forms and preparednesses of the archetypes. And here there is a great difference, for some of the archetypes are the form of particular Names, with their differences in degree; some of them are the form of universal Names, likewise with their various differences; and some are the. form of the Name which embraces all the particulars and universals.
So God offers two theophanies: one is the unmanifest theophany of the Essence, which is the effusion of the immutable archetypes along with their general preparednesses – and there is no doubt that the scope and capacity belonging to the preparedness of the locus of theophany is in accordance with the scope and capacity of the archetype. And the second is the ontological and visible theophany, which follows the preparedness, compass, and scope of the locus. And since beliefs are various, and preparednesses are different, whenever God manifests Himself, anyone who has limited Him to the form of a particular description denies Him in other than that form. Whereas whoever has disengaged Him from the limitation of one from other than another — like the Perfect Men and the gnostics — does not deny Him in any form of theophany. Rather, he glorifies Him as he should and performs the worship worthy of His station, for the theophanies of God, possesses no end at which the perfect gnostic and the understanding knower of God might stop.
Do you not see that God “Every moment is in a state” (cf. Qur’an)? In the same way, the heart is constantly undergoing a transformation in accordance with His transformations in the states of its consciousness. Therefore He said, “Surely in that”, i.e. in the Qur’an, “there is a reminder to him who has a heart” (Qur’an) which undergoes transformation according to different forms and attributes. He did not say, “who possesses a reason” because the reason becomes limited according to particular beliefs, so the Divine Reality — Who is infinite — becomes restricted in that which it perceives, in contrast to the heart, for since it is a locus for diverse theophanies from the levels of Divinity and Lordship and since it undergoes transformation according to the forms of these theophanies, it remembers its forgotten existence before it appeared in this physical and elemental level, and it finds here what it had lost, as the Prophet said, “Wisdom is the believer’s camel.” So understand!