"The heart is a sanctuary at the center of which there is a little space, wherein the Great Spirit dwells, and this is the eye...by which He sees all things, and through which we see Him."
Our hearts pump blood. They have to, or there's no show, right? That's what hearts do, but that's not all they do.
Our heart is, in so many ways, at the very center of our lives. It is the seat of our emotions – we actually perceive feelings in, or through, our hearts. Our hearts sustain us, direct us, comfort us. Our heart is an accessible storehouse for our feelings. It's an inspiration through it's action. We don't beat our heart – it can beat without us. In short, our heart creates, forms, and maintains what constitutes the very core of our lives.
I switch to a collective possessive form referring to "our heart," because it's part of the consciousness we share, our collective consciousness. It's part of our shared intelligence, our Eternal, Universal, or Divine intelligence. People who don't share this concept, we perceive as being "heartless" – tragically disassociated from Love, from those aspects of human life that are the most fulfilling and rewarding. They are also most capable of violence. Of selfish and pointless destruction – or of simple pettiness, shortsightedness, and lack of empathy. It's not because they aren't thinking, more often it's because they're thinking too much. With their heads.
"The whites always want something; they are always uneasy and restless. We do not know what they want. We do not understand them. We think that they are mad."
I asked him why he thought the whites were all mad.
"They say that they think with their heads," he replied.
"Why of course. What do you think with?" I asked him in surprise.
"We think here," he said, indicating his heart.
Pueblo Indian, Ochwiay Biano (Mountain Lake) to Carl Jung,
from Memories, Dreams, Reflections
As with everything, to find a better way to think about it, we do need to think about it with our minds. It's a bit of a leap, because our minds often don't understand what our hearts are doing. In fact our hearts have (or should have) a kind of unassailable authority over our minds. We think we should do what our minds tell us to do, but we know we need to follow our heart. By this I don't mean our passions or cravings – not lust, or ambition – but the simple, intuitive intelligence that mysteriously arises from our heart.
As is the case with most mythical, mystical, intuitive, and indigenous knowledge, Science is slowly catching up –providing us with "real proof" of what's long been known to some to be the cognitive and controlling facilities of the heart. Unlike any other part of our bodies, the heart contains a similar intricate cellular structure as the brain; the same neurons, neurotransmitters, proteins, and support cells. The heart is directly linked to the brain, and can control it's electrical activity. Along with being able to independently learn, remember, feel, and sense, the heart can directly enable the brain to acquire certain perceptive abilities, to inspire types of thought, as well as determine our emotional experience.
Medical Science now agrees with "a thinking heart," a heart with a brain, or that is itself a different kind of brain that unites body, mind, and emotions. Exactly how it does this is a mystery to medical science, but for centuries it's been known in Hindu Bhakti Yoga, and Tantric tradition that the fourth heart chakra is the center in humans of the higher self's true intelligence; connection to the field of higher intelligence; the seat of Divine Consciousness; of healing, of compassion; of wish-fulfillment. The spirit brain. The true source of your life's authentic direction, free from all that messy karma our minds can make for us. Our head thinks about our self too much, our heart thinks of others first.
Listen to your heart, to our heart, and let it have the last word – after the barrage of words your mind thinks up. (Some of the worst things I've ever done I thought about a lot first - but I should have listened to my heart). Regard your head as just another (albeit im-portant) extremity, packed with senses perfectly suited for the physical world. Consider your intellect as a ladder, used to transcend itself. But know your heart as the brain that connects you to The Eternal Intelligence that constitutes your true center. Let your heart do all the important thinking for you. It's where your home really is.
"Though the inner chamber of the heart is small, The Lord of both worlds gladly makes His home there."
Check out this site for more information about Heart/Mind science!
The book, "How To Survive Life (and Death)," is available from Conari Press, or at all major booksellers––but ask for it from your local bookshop.