The Importance of Clarification
Heart knowing is different to mind knowing, where our perceptions, ideas and constructs live. The knowing that exists in the heart doesn’t come from an evaluation or a weighing up or a judgement, it is a more direct knowing than this. It is the felt sense of the world that we trust to be true.
It is an innate knowing that comes from the things that we have absorbed into the core of our being over time – the things we have learnt to trust in, the things we know off by heart.
Like the taste of honey or the softness of a cat – we don’t have to think about these things, we just know them directly. We can be with the direct experience of it without our minds second-guessing or layering a level of concepts over the top.
It’s important to distinguish the two, mind-knowing and heart-knowing, because so many spiritual teachings are about the truth and the approach to knowing.
They will talk about what can and can’t be known, teach us how to let go of knowing or describe ways of getting in touch with knowing the truth, for example.
When people don’t distinguish between the two – the mind’s controlling reification of experience and the heart’s loose trust in experience – then a quote or instruction can be taken completely the wrong way.
One Sense Door
When we are present in our hearts, it creates this more direct experience of life.
Hearts are the space where all our sensory input and systems can collide to create a single flowing experience that we are immersed in – we aren’t watching it or controlling it, we are receiving it and all of our cells and emotions and thoughts become an inseparable part of the experience of life itself.
They are just doing what they’re doing. Life is free to come and go and express itself through us.
Being able to be in the heart space is about knowing that we will be open to experiencing experience whatever is being expressed. It takes time to build up the trust to do this with different and new types of experience. Particularly painful or difficult experiences.
From the heart space, our experience is meaningful, rich, embodied and dream-like all at the same time.
Because it is the space where all our experience comes together, hearts are the part of us that know that if you took any one of our body, heart, mind or soul out of the equation, life would fall over.
Our hearts are the only place that are able to hold this experience in its entirety without a sense of separation. They are the home of non-duality.
No Single Source of Truth
Emotions and minds and physical bodies all like to lead us to believe that they are the most important and one and only source of truth. The emotions want us to believe their stories as truth, the mind want us to understand everything and thinks only the things it can see are true, the physical body wants things to be fixed and solid and it can feel like only that which is grounded in physical reality is true.
The heart can hold all of these and recognise that there is no single source of truth. It knows that awareness is what helps us see experience, that felt-sense is what helps us have experience and that emotions are what helps us navigate experience.
We can play with separating these out and experiencing them on their own or in different combinations.
Part of being more present with our heart knowing is recognising and validating the parts of experience that our mind can’t understand.
An example of this is dreaming. It is a way that our emotions express themselves to help us make sense of our experience, often without awareness or our physical bodies getting much involved. Dreams are the stories of the subconscious that organise and make meaning out of our worlds, without which we turn into dysfunctional wrecks.
In waking life we can start to play with how we access this more abstract realm of the soul. Through imaginal practice we can allow our subconscious or emotional worlds to express themselves so that we can see the landscape of our inner worlds with more clarity.
Or we can start to create, through painting or writing without knowing what we are expressing, and afterwards we can look at it to understand the meaning of what we are communicating.
The way that our emotional worlds exist separately from our logical minds is no better expressed than through the paintings of highly schizophrenic patients. People who can’t string a sentence together or understand a simple direction can paint rich and complex paintings with structure and meaning that will evolve and develop over time, helping them make sense of and engage with the world despite their lack of awareness of what they are creating. (If you are interested in learning more about this I would recommend the film Nise: Heart of Madness. It’s very beautiful and moving and insightful.)
In all of these more creative practices, we are allowing the emotional, soulful or subconscious aspects of ourselves to express themselves freely, without needing to understand it, and then bringing awareness to it afterwards.
Neither the logical understanding nor the creative expression are a single source of truth. They arise together. And if we can learn to trust each of these components for what it is, we are able to love them for what they, creating a rich and embodied experience that we are immersed in.
We are no longer worried about what is true – life is purposefully too complex for us to be able to get to understand it anyway. Instead, we are able to focus on what is most important in this moment – the only place that we can experience life.