In the Wisdom teachings and the ancient sacred traditions, the heart has a very specific meaning. In contrast to the popular notion of the heart as being the seat of our personal affective life, our emotional responses, or our self identity — rather the heart is an organ for the perception of divine purpose and beauty. In this way the heart acts to orient us toward the divine radiance, and to synchronize our being with its more subtle movements. The heart is not for personal expression, but for divine perception.
The modern Sufi master Kabir Helminski summarizes this approach to the heart as follows:
We have subtle subconscious faculties we are not using. In addition to the limited analytic intellect is a vast realm of mind that includes psychic and extrasensory abilities; intuition; wisdom; a sense of unity; aesthetic, qualitative, and creative capacities; and image-forming and symbolic capacities. Though these faculties are many, we give them a single name with some justification because they are operating best when they are in concert. They comprise a mind, moreover, in spontaneous connection to the cosmic mind. This total mind we call “heart.”
(the above has been adapted from pp 33-34 in A Wisdom Way of Knowing by Cynthia Bourgeault)
For additional resources on the Wisdom Way of the Heart, see:
The Way of the Heart – an excerpt taken from Cynthia’s book The Heart of Centering Prayer
Seeing With The Eyes Of The Heart – an interview with Cynthia
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