Excerpts from a talk given at the First Presbyterian Church, Sarasota 10-18-2012
The sound of a human heartbeat is the same in every part of the world, regardless of race, creed or color. Despite all our differences, what we have in common with every other human being is the sound of a beating heart. Both our friends and enemies have this heartbeat. Despite the mind’s ability to produce various types of emotions such as happiness, sorrow, anger, fear etc., the heart is considered to be the seat of emotion. Most of the different emotions that we experience in the mind are in response to something in the outside world. Unconditional love, the most important human emotion, arises spontaneously from within ourselves. This emotion is found in a pure heart.
In The Holy Bible, it is written,
Love your neighbor as yourself.
But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.
Jesus Christ exemplified these teachings of unconditional love. On the cross he prayed “Father, please forgive them for they know not what they do.” The basic framework of the human heart resembles a cross. The human heart has an intersecting longer vertical wall (separating the right and left sides of the heart) and a shorter horizontal wall (separating the upper and lower chambers of the heart).
As human consciousness awakens in a newborn child, the first experience of the newborn is that of unconditional motherly love. This comes spontaneously to the mother. The helpless little newborn instinctually receives this love which helps protect it and foster its growth. As the child grows up, the memory of this experience of unconditional love can never be erased completely from the subconscious mind.
When water is poured from one jug to another, the amount of water the jug holds depends on its size. If the jug is very small, water overflows and if the jug is large, it can hold every drop of water that gets poured into it. A newborn’s mind is like a large jug that holds all the love that is given to it. This love then radiates back resulting in the happiness and smiles that adults experience when looking at a newborn.
As we grown into adults, the mind as a receptacle for unconditional love becomes shallower. Love for fellow beings and material objects gets organized based on our likes and dislikes. This love is based on gross manifestations forgetting the fundamental underlying nature of things. When love is based on attraction to positive qualities while ignoring the negative aspects, the foundation of this love is fear. Love based on a foundation of truth accepts the positive and negative qualities in everyone and everything.
The famous philosopher, J. Krishnamurti said, “Truth is a pathless land.” Ordinarily, the tendency of the human mind is to carve out pathways dividing truth. J. Krishnamurti told this story to illustrate this point. The devil and his friend were walking along a path. They came across a man stooped down in front of them. He was picking up an object off the ground. The friend asked the devil, “what is he picking up?” The devil answered, “he is picking up truth.” The friend retorted, “is that not bad for your business?”. The devil replied, “no, I will let him organize it.”
Everyone has an underlying nature, and in human beings, this underlying nature is dictated by the mind. If the mind reflects unconditional love, there is easy acceptance of everything life has to offer, including happiness and difficulties. We are lucky to be born with a mind that is essentially a clean slate at birth, with nothing written on it with the exception of the experience of unconditional love. The journey of life becomes easy or difficult based on the degree to which we manifest this love that we have experienced in the opening minutes of our lives. As we go through life, this mental slate quickly fills up with all our experiences and the one that matters the most remains hidden.
The heart is said to be the seat of emotions. The heart is at the junction of lower and higher emotional energies. These lower and higher energies are interconnected at the level of the heart just as the trunk connects the two legs and two arms to the head. The lower emotional energies deal with the dualities of existence dealing with feelings of security, pleasure, fame and power. This duality of existence is represented by the two legs. The two arms represent the positive and negative thoughts. The higher emotional energies aim to connect the one behind the many, just as one head is connected to the four limbs. The lower and more gross emotional energies point downwards towards their source in the dualities of existence. On the other hand, higher and finer emotional energies point upwards towards their source in the hidden unity behind all. A person standing with the arms outstretched and the legs apart resembles a star. These upward and downward pointing energies can be represented as upright and inverted triangles. When these triangles are superimposed, it takes the shape of a star. The heart, at the junction of these energies is symbolized by this star.
The physical human heart performs one main function, that is circulating blood. It does this every minute of our lives. Regardless of whether this blood travels to healthy tissue or a cancerous tumor, the heart continuously pumps blood. Nourishing blood from the heart flows in a steady stream towards all the cells in the body. Oxygen rich blood flows in flows in one direction, always away from the heart. Similarly, unconditional love flows in one direction away from us towards our fellow beings. On the other hand, conditioned love flows towards our likes and dislikes.
The heart and mind are like two sides of a coin. Just as one cannot escape one’s shadow, the heart and the mind are inseparable. When the mind exerts its control, it casts a shadow on the heart, hiding it. If the mind is distracted and dissipated in different directions, focusing on one’s heart can bring it back to one-pointedness. While the mind often needs rest, the heart does not rest even for a minute. The heart retains just enough blood that is essential for maintaining its function and it gives up the rest. The mind, on the other hand, does not give anything up easily. The mind does not allow us to give up our possessions, however vast or little. Even if these material resources are more useful to someone else, the mind does allow us to give them up. The heart accepts all the impurities generated from tissue metabolism and promptly eliminates it from the body through the lungs. Pure and impure blood in a normal healthy heart do not mix. They are separated by a wall. In the mind, pure and impure thoughts and impulses are mixed and there is no wall of separation. By using one’s will power, a “wall” can be erected in our minds, selecting out pure positive thoughts from negative ones and placing positive thoughts ahead of negative ones.
The function of the heart does not cease in response to negative emotions. However, constant negative emotions can affect the health of the heart. The heart distributes oxygen and simultaneously collects impurities in the form of carbon dioxide. There is a balance maintained throughout the life of the heart. Living in the world, it is inevitable for impure thoughts to arise in the mind despite all our efforts to generate positive thoughts. Like the heart, it is imperative for us to quickly release these impure thoughts before they disappear and hide in the subconscious mind. Once they are released from the mind, they are rendered harmless to us and others.
As time moves forward, we go through each month of the year in succession. Twelve of these months constitute one year. This cycle repeats itself over and over. The earth takes twelve months to complete one rotation of the sun. As the earth rotates around the sun, the sun appears to pass through the twelve constellations of the Zodiac. Like the twelve celestial constellations of the Zodiac, the human heart has twelve components. There are four valves regulating blood flow through the chambers of the heart, four tubes called the pulmonary veins that bring in oxygen rich blood from the lungs to the left side of the heart, two tubes called the superior and inferior vena cava that bring in oxygen depleted blood to the right side of the heart, a tube called the aorta that distributes blood to various parts of the body and another tube called the pulmonary artery which sends blood from the heart to the lungs. As blood cells sequentially rotate through these twelve components, the sound of the heartbeat is generated. When one listens to the chest, each heartbeat is heard as a “lub dub”. The sun provides the spark of life for human civilization and the heart provides the spark of life for individual human life. Although it is difficult to directly see the sun (without damaging one’s eyes), one can feel it’s warmth all day long. Similarly, even though others cannot directly see our heart, they can feel its warmth.
The basic requirements of all human beings is food, water and oxygen. Only when these prerequisites of life are met, the mind can take flight. The heart is the conduit for oxygen and the stomach is the conduit for food. Cells use this food and oxygen and water is produced. The body directly depends on food, water and oxygen and the mind indirectly depends on these vital elements of life. When the mind takes flight, it takes with it the thoughts that are predominant at that time. These thoughts serve as seeds. A seed taken from a tree and planted thousands of miles away in a right environment for its growth, grows into a tree that resembles the one from which the seed originated. A seed from a tall tree will produce a tall tree.
Visualize the heart as a windmill with twelve blades. Now visualize the navel as the foundation of this windmill. Your breathing process powers this windmill and oxygen circulates through the body. The mind depends on the movement of this windmill for its existence. When you focus your attention on the breath and the heart, the mind becomes very pliable and follows instructions.
Thoughts are like threads. Individual threads may be weak and can be cut easily, but a rope created out of thousands of threads woven together cannot be cut easily.
Focus your attention on your breath. With each incoming breath, imagine you are taking a thread from the top of the windmill located at the heart to the base of the windmill located at the navel. With each outgoing breath, imaging you are now sending another thread from the base of the windmill at the navel to the top of the windmill at the region of the heart. Each thread is a thought. When you breathe in, take the thread of love from the heart to the navel. When you breathe out take a thread of peace from the navel to the heart. The next breath in take the thread of health from the heart to the navel and on the breath out, take the thread of prosperity from the navel to the heart. The next breath in, take the thread of humbleness from the heart to the navel and on the breath out, take the thread of helpfulness from the navel to the heart. On the next breath in, take the thread of forgiveness from the heart to the navel and on the breath out, take the thread of gratitude from the navel to the heart. On the next breath in, take the thread of love from the heart to the navel.
Keep repeating this over and over again. By this process, these threads will be spun into a strong rope. This rope anchors the mind around these thoughts. Wherever you go, the mind will manifest these thoughts.