Notes on Our True Heart and True Mind
The Chinese term heart/mind refers to our essential faculty of knowing, compassionate, spontaneous interaction with reality, and is not defined by the narrow definition of separate heart or separate mind in the western sense. It is a unitive faculty that expresses our essential nature prior to the separative activity of mind or emotions. Hence it is our true heart/true mind.
When our energetic nature is whole and alive, thought itself can be a creative, vibrant expression of our rich essential nature, finding a natural economy within the whole person. But when the heart/mind is obscured, and the energetic nature is out of harmony, then the thinking process runs away with itself and becomes a purely mechanical and compulsive process with no enlivening consciousness. Its technical capacity for measurement, analysis, interpretation, judgment, imagination and projection is no longer grounded in the unifying intelligence of the heart, but becomes a separate virtual reality of its own that veils the heart/mind and dominates the natural life of body and spirit.
By the same token, the positive emotional energy that is the natural expression of our heart/mind – love, appreciation, compassion, joy – is considerably diminished and overwhelmed by a separative, compulsive and toxic emotional energy that is a dramatization of our mental projections, and which restimulates those projections in turn.
Physiologically and energetically the heart/mind is associated with the heart itself, rather than the brain, although our modern western science and culture has tended to glorify the brain and the nervous system, reducing the heart to a mere sophisticated pump in service of the governing intelligence of the brain. Cutting-edge research in such fields as neurocardiology and heart energetics confirms that the heart has a “brain of its own,” that consciousness is of the whole body, and that the heart is responsible for governing the harmonious functioning of all body systems, as well as harmonizing our interaction with the world – and that its harmonious functioning radiates, and is sustained by, the emotional energies of love, joy and appreciation.
What I am in the virtual reality of my thinking mind is a story I continually make up by observing what has happened. The present moment is always occurring outside of my agenda. It is occurring before I know it. It is always already taken care of. Yet “I” believe it needs the stamp of approval or disapproval, as dictated by my story, or my signed authorization for its existence. What I am in truth is that which is already arising as life in all things. I can choose simple surrender to it – which is already the case – or I can choose the thought that I must judge or control it in some way. In actuality, there is no “I” making such a choice, except in the story. I may either be surrendered or not. The choice is out of time and out of “my” control. Yet awakeness, or surrender, is already the case and may become apparent at any time. That is the paradox of grace.
The true heart is simply that which is already in immediate and essentially loving relationship to – surrendered to – all things as they arise. The true mind is simply that which is already aware of all things as they arise, prior to separation. True heart and true mind is not other than that which is arising. The way things are is what there is.
The apparent inability to recognize this is a result of the complication of the “I-story” that has been built up through a lifetime of observation and identification. The “I-story” exists within mythical time that is an endless labyrinth into which the drama of salvation gets projected – in which the inherently blissful realization becomes the chronically fearful apprehension that there is no one to save. Realization is the heart’s integrity surrendering its search in time; the knowing that opens when the heart falls back into itself. The heart’s integrity is none other than God’s integrity.
To accept the identities and imperatives of our thought-world is to continue in fitful sleep. To seek to awaken is also an extension of our greatest delusion. The ego-mind is ever seeking to reinvent the wheel, when it’s not simply avoiding the wheel altogether. That wheel is the self-existent current of love that manifests as our life, as our suffering and our enlightenment, beyond all our doing. Learning to access and practice our own capacity for this love allows us to stay present to ourselves and to all that is arising within our experience. When we stop reinventing or avoiding this current of love, it will naturally carry us into the depths of divine experience and contemplation, and also into the simple functionality of our everyday life.
As a practical matter, as human beings wanting to stand in the fullness of our humanity, we must let this love carry us not only into the dimension of transcendent awareness, but also into the realm of our emotional healing and of our capacity for relationship on both individual and community levels. To ignore any of these dimensions, or to create any dichotomy between them in our spiritual practice, is to offer very limited service to either our humanity or our realization.
The True Heart/True Mind Intensive that we offer is a supremely integrative and nondualistic process founded in both love and awareness. With directness and compassion the True Heart/True Mind training challenges us to stand nakedly and honestly in the fire of our experience – which is beyond manipulation and beyond self – and thereby learn to embrace both our immediate suffering and our immediate enlightenment.
We never will or can be more than we are right now. What is that? Learning to allow and to exercise the unconditional love that is essentially true of us opens the doors of transcendent awareness.
The True Heart/True Mind Intensive serves as a living laboratory – or greenhouse – in which people can grow in direct conscious knowledge of who they are. It serves not by teaching us how to do something more and more perfectly, how to meditate more perfectly, how to be more perfectly enlightened. It serves by opening a space wide and deep enough for us to test the waters of our own existence, to try and fail and try again at all the beliefs, strategies and demands that normally motivate our approach to experience – until the membrane of our seeking becomes so threadbare and obsolete that we suddenly find ourselves inhabiting an unencumbered space. Enlightenment is not ultimate success at something we’re trying to do. It is the ultimate failure. It is our default position that has always been true after we have exhausted all the other possibilities. The mind will always want to make it a thing. But there is no thing. The heart that falls back on itself has nowhere to stop falling.