Aspects of Love, Heart and Mind
How to Make the Wisest Choices
By: J. Marlando
When we stop and truly analyze our lives, we realize that nothing is more important to us than love—indeed, if money is in second place it is quite a few lengths behind. We are talking here about love for others—our children, our relatives, our friends and so forth—and for the world in general. Indeed, we all want to be loved and it doesn’t matter how good or even evil we’ve been our most distinct but intrinsic desire is that others know all about us and love us anyway.
I believe it is safe to say that the human spirit nourishes on love. But it is not only “the human” spirit: Years ago when I worked with all kinds of animals, from mice to elephants, wild and domestic, it became clear and obvious that all living “things” have a need to give and receive love.
As a quick aside, some years ago I had the privilege of working with Ralph Helfer who was first to teach animals as opposed to train them; he was a behaviorist that used love and so kindness (not the whip) to inspire his exotic animals into performing with a philosophy that even the spider and snake, much less the lion and lamb would respond to loving attentiveness. He proved this daily! Years later, as I have reported before, the physicist Fred Allan Wolf told me that “love is the glue of the universe” and this implies that love is much more than a feeling or emotion but that it is the cohesiveness of the universe itself. In fact, my own grandmother used to say that if we took love out of the world everything would wilt, dry up and/or deconstruct in some other way; even the stars, she’d say, would fall from the sky! Well, to my grandmother God was Love and Love was God. Might the old hill woman be right after all?
Most everyone knows what happens to human infants who lack loving attentiveness—in most instances they die. Indeed, a great number of children who grow up without love and affection end up closing their hearts to the world of others; of becoming hardened in order to cope with their own “hardened/loveless” worldviews.
People who have had lots of love in their lives find it difficult to truly comprehend what a life without love might be like. On a purely physical level, when an infant is not nurtured with touch, that infant will probably develop neural problems. I am compelled to say that life is far more complex than most of us are used to thinking it is. In any case, I interviewed the famous cancer surgeon and writer, Doctor Bernie Siegel who was first to say, “Love is physiological.” This is the good news! The bad news is that the lack of love can also have it physical effects. In other words, if love can heal us, the lack of love can sicken us. There is, in fact, one theory that tells us that hate and non-forgiveness is at the root of some extremely serious (deadly) diseases. Yes, the big "C" included.
And so, as it turns out, love affects us emotionally, psychologically and…physically. This article will strive to discover a reasonable rationale for this unique and powerful phenomenon.
Love & Heart
When most all of us think of love, we think of romantic love and love for others such as family and friends. As most of us know, however, we can often misinterpret lust for love when it comes to romance. Indeed, lust is a strong incentive that nature gives us to mate and nest.
The truth, I believe, is that even if we are deeply “in love” prior to marriage, the real loving does not begin until we have discovered each other’s stark humanism and been through a few of life’s ups, downs and turnarounds together. Nevertheless, I do not want to get “stuck” on the topic of romantic love, which is tempting to do but isn’t the focus of our concerns here. I will, however, add this as food for thought: Romantic love is never true (or real) between couples until it matures into unconditional love. Indeed, as long as a married or committed couple lives in anticipation or expectation of what the other will do and/or should do, the relationship remains outside the realm of love even though both individuals in the relationship may be extremely “loving” toward one another.
Indeed, the emotion(s) of love has no direct connection to love itself—love simply is! What manifests love in the world are the actions of love. The actions of love begin with simple kindness. To say to another person I love you and then treat him or her unkind is hypocrisy in the least if not an absolute deception to self and other. After all, the activities of real love are empathetic and compassionate caring. Mother Teresa certainly demonstrated this during most of her lifetime—she in fact became the poster child for being the modern Good Samaritan, which of course she was. But how can we, more common human beings love others in such an unconditional way. Jesus gave the answer: Don’t judge!
Indeed, both Buddha and Lau Tzu realized the futility in judging others.
The wise old saying tells us to not to judge anyone unless we’ve “walked a mile in their moccasins.” But a mile simply isn’t enough—in order to judge anyone accurately from a moral or ethical viewpoint, it would be essential to experience the totality of that person’s pains and pleasures from birth to the moment the judgment value was made.
While we may judge what a person does as wrong, harmful, immoral or unethical correctly, we may not judge the person for those transgressions since we cannot ever walk in the totality of his or her experiences. (The operative word here is “totality”).
A major goal in each of our lives is to strive to walk our own paths open heartedly which is necessarily a condition of loving unconditionally. When we do, our world actually brightens from the happiness (super joy) that permeates us.
How the heck do we actually love “unconditionally?”
The practice is learning how to love you in this way. By and large and at one level of consciousness or another we individuals walk around in a gloom of self-judgments, regrets, shamefulness and so forth. The way, actually the only way to free yourself from these shackles is self-forgiveness.
As I have said many time before—we can only love the world to the degree that we love ourselves and this is also true of forgiveness. We can only forgive others to the degree that we forgive ourselves.
Once you have forgiven you, you can then forgive others which is absolutely
essential to your happiness.
To live consistently in forgiveness is to is fully realize that every single individual who has ever lives make mistakes. What is it that the great teacher of Christianity taught: Peter, a disciple, asked the master how often he should forgive his brother if his brother kept wronging him: The master answered seven times a day.
Peter asks, that many times?
The master answers as much as seventy times seven, for even the holiest of us make mistakes. Even the prophets, even after they were filled with the Holy Spirit, made mistakes.
But how do you forgive when your anger is so deeply embedded in your psyche self?
When hatefulness erupts in your mind, close your eyes and visualize the hated object and tell it, “I love you and I forgive you.” Make this exercise your habit and soon enough your forgiveness will be real and you will be free.
Love & Mind
One reason that we make mistakes is because we so often do not follow our hearts but instead listen to our egocentric brain/minds. Indeed, how many times have you said—or heard others say—oh, if only I’d followed my heart I wouldn’t be in the mess I’m in now…I would be so much better off…things would have turned out so differently and so forth?
In especially so-called civilized cultures, such as our own, we are raised (and we raise our children) to make “thinking” the ultimate human attribute—we indeed place the human brain at the top of our culture’s totems and praise it as being the center of our being.
On the other hand, we learn to deem our hearts as the center of our emotions, not to be paid much attention to. It is said that it is from the chambers of our hearts that our jealousies erupt; our greed is seeded and where our foolishness is derived. I tell you that just the opposite is true. Jealousies, greed and every other foolish behavior arrives from the brain/mind and are constructs of its egocentricities and self-centeredness.
The brain also houses all our learned knowledge. The stuff we were told by our parents, by our teachers and preachers; from the books we’ve read and the calculations and interpretations of our own making; all that we have experienced. Now then, while all this sounds like an overwhelming lot—it is all quite limited.
The heart/mind on the other hand is the center of our insight, foresight and intuitions—it whispers to us when we are about to make mistakes like marrying the wrong person, like going right when we should go left and yes, choosing evil over good. In other words, our hearts tell us when we are doing one thing (or are about to) but ought to be doing something else.
In this view one can say that the mind is smart but the heart is wise.
But wait—can any of this be true? After all, everyone knows that the human heart is a mere metaphor for our feelings and emotional thinking. The very idea that it knows anything much less that it is somehow tapped into the secrets of the Universe is, at best, mysticism.
I will turn to Joseph Chilton Pearce at this juncture who tells us, “The heart certainly has intelligence, though this calls for a new definition of the word to differentiate it from cerebral intellect.” He further tells us that “To better understand the brain in our heart and the concept of intelligence or wisdom of the heart, we need to understand a bit about the nature of the glial cells, which accompany neurons and are as important to the brain as they are to the heart.
Pearce give us the following explanation: “Although glial cells make up 80 percent of the mass of our brains, very little is yet known about them. (Most brain research thus far has centered on the more accessible neural system.) The word glia comes from the Latin word meaning ‘glue,’ which is what these tiny cells were long considered to be—glue that held the neuron in place. Eighty percent, however, seems an expensive outlay for glue that plays no other role. We have since discovered that the glia provide many important services.
“Glia are electromagnetically sensitive and form an interactive em field in the brain over and above the electrochemical fields of neurons, with some ten or more glia clustered around each neuron. There is a strong probability that these em-sensitive glia selectively draw from the hierarchy of em fields surrounding us and translates these em frequencies into electromagnetic signals to those neurons, thereby furnishing the information from which our neural system builds our world experience...”
Pearce continues giving us an explanation of the technical aspects and functions of glial cells but all that is important here is to understand that these cells are a pathway for communication between our hearts and our brain/minds. He continues to say, “…our neuron-laden heart has a myriad of neural connections with the body and direct, unmediated neural connections with the emotional structure of the brain (from which come the new and popular subject of ‘emotional intelligence,’ our brains translation of that nonverbal, gestalt type of knowing: heart intelligence)…”
Beyond all this we are told that heart influences the brain through a hormonal process and actually observes the heart an Endocrine Glad. Pearce’s explanation of all this is far too detailed to quote any further but the bottom line is, that the heart is far more than the body’s pump; it is a “mind” of sorts that transfers information to our brain/minds. And so, there is clearly science behind the spiritual proposition that tells us we receive messages from the heart.
Free will permits us to take heed to the heart’s message or simply reject it—I just knew I should not have thrown the rock but I did anyway…I knew I should have never quit my job but I went ahead and walked away from it anyway…I would have just been so much happier if I’d followed my heart instead of doing what I did…
What I offer in light of all this is that our heart always knows what the right thing is…and it whispers it to us no matter how simple or complex the fork in our road is. I am convinced that the secret of our heart’s wisdom is in its simplicity: No matter what choice we are confronted with, when we decide to do the kind and loving thing, we always do the right thing.
The general consensus is that our mind and heart communicate, as Pearce puts it, “beneath our awareness.” But I am convinced that while the heart/mind’s communicating with the brain/mind may well be on the unconscious level, what the heart has to say is transmitted to the “I” of us in feeling and so in intuitive thought. We “sense” for example when we are headed into danger or when we’re about to do something stupid or foolish. While it is true we are free to CHOOSE which way we will go while standing at a real or metaphoric crossroads, our hearts will signal us through what we have always most simply called, “feelings in our hearts.”
A problem can be that the mind can overpower the heart and often does—it is not right to cheat, the heart says, but every one cheats, the mind argues, and anyway who would ever know? In a sense this is the age-old conflict between good and evil in the form of ego and conscience. Ego is always self-serving and self-centered(mind) while conscience is caring and compassionate (heart).
With all this in mind an apparent question quickly arises—how the heck does our heart know what the best, wisest and most positive choices are for us to make?
Joseph Children Pearce answers this question for us without hesitation: “The heart is both universal and individual.” He tells us that a holy or wise man that he knows by the name of Gurumayi teaches that there is only one heart, a universal function expressing through each of us in infinitely varied ways.
The brain/mind, if you will, is earthbound, grounded in its own experiences and dependent on brain/body functions. It needs the billions of physical connections and yes all those neurons and glial cells to operate. Heart needs all this technology too because it is also operating in the physical world but our hearts/mind are not a closed system as is the brain/mind, it is, we can say, a gateway to the omniscience of the Universe. It is also through this gateway that we are in connectedness to everyone and everything else. We are in a state of what the physicist David Bohm calls the Implicit Order or, in other words, the world as a single undivided whole.
It is that pathway that permits two electrons to communicate across the universe from one another or a mother to sense when her child is in danger. And understanding this, it is probably safe to say that the heart is who we are while the mind only believes that it is us.
I am fully aware that these thoughts will be foreign to a great many readers but when we can think of the heart as belonging to mind and brain belonging to body and then grasp the teaching of the Confusion sage’s observation that the universe is filled with both mind and phenomena the distinctions I’ve made in the article should become more familiar. On the other hand, even if the reader completely disagrees with the more spiritual observations, the vital point is to listen to your heart. When you do, you will simply be happier and more content in your life.
Bohm, David * Wholeness and the Implicate Order * Routledge
Pearce, Chilton Pearce * The Biology of Transcendence *Park Street Press