Heart vs. Mind – Reconciling Knowledge and Wisdom in Spiritual Practice – Part 2

Wisdom as truth

Humans cannot come to Truth through any organization, through any creed, through any dogma, priest, or ritual, not through any philosophic knowledge or psychological technique. They have to find it through the understanding of the contents of their own minds, through observation and not through intellectual analysis or introspective dissection.” ~ J. Krishnamurti

Krishnamurti recognized that “Truth, being limitless, unconditioned, unapproachable by any path whatsoever, cannot be organized…” What he meant, of course, was that no amount of intellectual study or organized ritual can bring truth. And truth is the essence of wisdom. There has to be some internalization process that happens, some form of direct experience, which brings the seeker that which he seeks. Being regarded as one of the 20th century’s greatest philosophers, it is interesting to note that Krishnamurti failed his courses at London University. And even though his brother, Nitya, passed with honors, Krishnamurti’s professors claimed that he had a much wider grasp of large concepts. His ‘mind’ was the bigger of the two.

Thinking and doing from the heart

As we have seen, the limitations of thought are many. Eckhart Tolle in his “Power of Now” addressed this issue by reminding us that one of the ways it limits is by trapping us in time and space. “This is what I think today, tomorrow I might think something else.”  See what I mean? Tolle goes on to use the following example –  If you asked your cat or dog what time it was would it look at a clock? Of course not, its answer would be “now”.  If you asked your pet where it is, you think it would say “I’m in the living room?’  No, it would say “here”.  Staying present seems to be a criteria for reaching that part of ourselves that transcends time and space. We can achieve this in deep states of meditation. All matters of form (time and space included) dissolve as we lose the boundaries of our physical bodies and nothing is left but our true selves. Our minds don’t get in the way anymore. Since thought implies the mind, it can be argued that thought arising from the true self or heart is not thought at all.  What is it then? Maybe it’s truth, wisdom. That indefinable something that can change the way we see the world.

A friend of mine e-mailed me recently about not always knowing the right thing to do in certain situations. She commented that she “is not sure what the boundaries are. I’ve stepped on enough landmines to be wary. Hate those explosions!” She is approaching with her analytical mind, instead of seeing the situation from her heart. Maybe we need to forget about boundaries. Maybe we need to love those explosions. If we think with our hearts instead of our minds we will be acting from a place of love…..and wisdom. The boundaries fall away and transformation, the alchemy, begins.

So ask your self, “How do I see? With my eyes? My mind? My heart? Try using less mind and more heart. See only with your heart. Your mind doesn’t know what you want. Listen with your heart and it will tell you. I asked a wise soul what my current preoccupation with “heart” was all about. I was told, “Heart is love. Love comes from the heart. Do everything from the heart.” Which, of course, means do everything from a place of love. The Beatles’ said it all with their lyrics, “…love is all there is.”

The Pitfalls of direct experience

We applaud and reward academic achievement. Pride is felt as one can attach letters at the end one’s name. One’s salary and status usually improve. But just as our egos can be stroked by acquiring knowledge, it can also be deluded into feeling superior through experiences. We begin to judge our ‘progress’ by another arbitrary standard. As our searching has us abandon trying to find the answers in books and we begin to experience what we have read about, another kind of pride is felt. We might begin to feel competitive thinking “Look at my experience. It’s better than yours. Therefore I must be further along the spiritual path.”  This is normal in the beginning. But we must remember that alchemy, the true transformation of knowledge into wisdom, does not begin until we get past our egos. My teacher has always told us that if we feel we must gauge our progress we should, “look to the changes in our character.” When that happens, your ego gets out of the way, and a kind of humility sets in. A simplicity in one’s character emerges. That simplicity is wisdom.

Taking the first step

Become the watcher. William Ury, the author of many books on conflict resolution, refers to this as, “going to the balcony.” He suggests that when you find yourself in conflict remove yourself mentally and become the observer of what is happening. Go to the balcony of the theater and watch the play. An interesting choice of metaphor. Of course, you don’t have to be in conflict to do this. It is a good idea to watch all you do, think, say, feel. Watch as if you are a character in a play. Watch as your role is being played out. This provides detachment from any situation, thought or emotion.  The more detached we are the more present we become because we are disentangled from the mind and the judgments that keep the mind going. The ‘watcher’ is coming from a different place, the present moment.  The watcher then has the direct connection to heart.  It removes the middleman, the ego, from the play.

We can all use a little alchemy in our lives. Think how the world could change if our actions were led by our hearts, our inner wisdom, instead of the external machinations of the egotistical mind? Healing the universe is an inside job.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s