I thought you all might be interested in a section of a paper I wrote that speaks of the difference between living in the heart and living in the head. Because the paper was only given locally to a small group, I did not annotate it—I hadn’t done so for many, many years and just didn’t want to be bothered, so to be fair I feel I must ask you not to copy this information, because it is not all mine. It is from somewhere in Gail Godwin’s book called Heart, a personal journey through its myths and meanings. Other than the quote, which is most of the article, the thoughts and ideas are my own expressions.
Because we are told that God is found both in the silence as well as in our hearts, when we block our painful feelings, we have set up a difficult situation for ourselves. In order to get to our hearts, we must begin to deal with our pain and all its resulting addictions. When we live in our minds, we have created yet another impediment to our connection with God.
The problem of the “busy mind” seems to be largely a product of our Western culture. Not all peoples everywhere live so much in their heads. The following excerpt, taken from a book about the heart, quotes words of Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung that describe his encounter with the Native American chief of the Taos pueblos in New Mexico in 1932.
“”I was able to talk with him as I have rarely been able to talk with a European,’ Jung recalls…
“Chief Ochwiay Biano, which means Mountain Lake, must have sensed a kindred spirit in the Swiss doctor, because he was devastatingly candid with him.
“Chief Mountain Lake: ‘See how cruel the whites look, their lips are thin, their noses sharp, their faces furrowed and distorted by folds. Their eyes have a staring expression; they are always seeking something. What are they seeking? The whites always want something. They are always uneasy and restless. We do not know what they want. We do not understand them. We think that they are all mad.’
“When Jung asks why he thinks they are all mad, Mountain Lake replies, ‘They say they think with their heads.’
“’Why of course, says Jung, ‘What do you think with?’
“’We think here,’ says Chief Mountain Lake, indicating his heart.
“After this exchange, Jung fell into a deep meditation. The Pueblo Chief had struck a vulnerable spot. Jung saw image upon image of cruelties wreaked by his forebears: the Roman eagle on the North Sea and the White Nile, the keenly incised features of Julius Caesar,…Charlemagne’s most glorious forced conversions of the heathen… the peoples of the Pacific islands decimated by firewater, syphilis and scarlet fever carried in the clothes the missionaries forced on them.
“Chief Mountain Lake had shown Jung the other face of his own civilization: it was ‘the face of a bird of prey seeking with cruel intentness for distant quarry…”
The author says of this exchange, “what makes this dialogue reported by Jung so relevant is that it describes an encounter between a representative of the unconscious ‘heart thinking’ of the ancients and a modern man of science and a pioneer of consciousness who understood that the wisdom of the heart must catch up with our overdeveloped ‘thinking heads’ if we are to survive. We have to preserve the gold in the age-old ‘knowledge of the heart’ and keep making it ever more conscious if we are to protect our growing human possibilities from the keen-featured bird-of-prey mentality that circles above. We must develop a new consciousness of the heart.”
If we look at the corporate world today, it is not difficult to understand these words: “In our contemporary bottom-line society, heart-knowledge—based on things like feeling values, relationship, personal courage—-tends to be mistrusted as impractical, profitless, or nonexistent. Where is ‘the heart,’ anyway, scoffs the bird-of-prey executive, trudging joylessly on his treadmill, except under your breastbone?
“No longer do we literally cut out our enemies hearts and feed them to an out-of-date sun god: we do it the bloodless, sophisticated way, without a flint knife, and we feed them to the contemporary god ‘market value function.”
Maybe we have seen enough movie previews to also understand the following words: “Some of us have anesthetized our hearts so thoroughly that it takes the utmost in thrills, the most graphic depiction of horror, to make something in our breasts lurch or recoil: to shock us into a reaction that at least feels like feeling.”