Seeking part 2
“Whether we consider what happens to us good fortune or ill fortune, appreciation for this life can wake us up and give us the courage we need to stay right there with whatever comes through the door.”
- Pema Chödrön
I like to think of spiritual seeking in two parts; the mind, and the heart. The first part of this topic I wrote about the mind. Personally I began seeking from the mind so that’s just how I’m oriented around this subject. Although, these two parts are intertwined. If you focus on engaging one, you naturally have to engage the other to some degree. I want to focus this second part on the heart. The heart is just as important, if not more so.
When I say “engaging” the mind and heart I mean to open the mind and heart. In part one I wrote about letting go of belief. This is how we open the mind. It’s sort of like clearing out space to prepare yourself to receive revelation. But we also have to open the heart as well. And a way of doing this is to embrace vulnerability. I wrote a whole article dedicated to this, but I want to talk about the heart in this specific context.
When we let go of a belief, we are engaging the heart by being vulnerable to the unknown. And the further you go with letting go of belief the more open your mind becomes. We can also use contemplation and self inquiry to push the boundaries of the mind. And as you do this you can reach a threshold. You know you’ve come to this threshold when you’re more confused than you’ve ever been. You get broken down to the studs. You push the limits with inquiry, and then you get stumped. You can’t go any further. When this happens all you can do is engage the heart as you wait for grace.
If you’ve read any of my previous writing you’ve probably noticed that I like to start my articles with a related quote. The quote I used for part one goes; “The path of the heart takes you out of the mind.” That was by the wonderful teacher Ram Dass. To open the mind is to detach from our concepts. But engaging the heart in spiritual practice has nothing to do with concepts. It’s more experiential. I mentioned that my practice began with engaging the mind. I didn’t really start focusing on the heart until a couple years ago. But once I did it took my practice to a whole new level. I can’t even describe how intimate I became with life. And when this happened it really did feel like I “left the mind.” I wasn’t so concerned with opening the mind because I felt that it was already open well enough. All that I could do is heartfully experience life. To allow myself to be vulnerable to everything. My favorite teacher, Adyashanti, once said to “heartfully give yourself to everything.” As we allow ourselves to be more vulnerable to life, we become more intimate with life. And this is opening the heart.
We open the mind, realize our deeper nature, and heartfully live life as what we realized ourselves to truly be. I can’t speak for everyone but this is how it’s been going for me. And I think this is a common process.
When we really start to open the heart life becomes more intense. We feel things more deeply, and are generally more connected to everything. And this is really the point of spirituality in general. To become more connected to life. The more connected we become with life the closer we get to realizing the nature of it — I.e., enlightenment. And to experience an awakened state both the mind and the heart have to be open.
I mentioned the spiritual instinct in part one. And how it’s just another thing to be discovered for yourself. Well, engaging the heart is yet another thing. I can try to describe it, but no description of anything is anywhere near what the description is actually describing. To live deeply through the heart goes beyond concepts.
By writing this I really just want to touch in on how important and essential it is. Spirituality is much more than just a mind thing. Speaking from where I’m at now (which is where I only speak from), it seems as though there is a limit to opening the mind. Once we open it we just maintain its openness. If there is that kind of limit with the heart I definitely haven’t reached it yet. However, this is just theory.
The mind is extremely complex. Especially in the beginning of this awakening process. But the heart is far more simple. Which is why I’d like to keep this article shorter than part one. I feel that talking too much about this could make it seem more complicated than it really is. In zen they say; the art of zen is to live deeply. Living deeply is all it means to engage the heart. Let go of the self and get the world in return.
I think I’ll just leave it at that.
Thank you for reading.