How to Distinguish Between the Heart and the Mind
A matter of faith vs experience?
“How to differentiate between the voice of the heart and the voice of the mind?”
This is a very pertinent question and I began to think deeply and feel deeply too about this. In fact, anything that I watched on TV, any song I heard, any interactions I had - I began to view them in light of the heart vs mind. God always answers us - we miss God because He/She/It does not come in a form that we are expecting!
Before I present my rule of the thumb for differentiating between the voice of the mind and that of the heart, I remember very vividly a deep thought process that I was going through during my undergraduate days at Brindavan. There seemed to be no resolution for a problem that I was pondering about. It was like the proverbial hen and egg situation - as to which came first?
My thought was this, “Swami says that if you have faith, you will get an experience. But, to have faith in the first place, I need an experience right? If I witness some grand miracle, naturally I will get faith. So instead of faith producing experiences, I think it must be the other way where experiences produce faith.”
I walked into the Trayee Brindavan compound and unlocked the AVC room. It was part of my duty to place mikes for the bhajans that would begin shortly in the Sai Ramesh hall. As I pulled a drawer to take out some XLR cables that were needed, my eyes fell upon a small book entitled something like “Len Chibbey dreams..” or something like that. ( I do not remember the exact title)
I just turned to the first page and came to know that this book was an imaginary ( or was it?) conversation between Len and God.
Len and his conversation with God
I randomly flipped to a page and there in front of me was Len’s question to God. ( I try to capture the gist in my own dialogue format)
“Why don’t you reveal yourself to your creation? That experience will simply transform anyone....”
( Wow, I thought. This was exactly what I had been thinking - one experience and God would gather all the faith He wanted!)
God -, “I would love to do that Len! But tell me how should I do it?”
Len - Simple God! Do a miracle - and make is so magnificent that everyone is simply stunned! ( an obvious answer but now I was completely in grip of the book)
God - I am ready Len. Can you tell me what miracle should I do?
Len - (after some thought) Well! How about this? Make the whole sky and oceans pink in colour. That way nobody will miss the miracle and all will be stunned.
God - (with a sigh) That will not work Len.....
Len - (Surprised at God’s stupidity) Why? Just listen to me. It will thrill all.
God - The thrill will not last Len. Soon it will become “common knowledge”!
Len - What do you mean? How do you say so?
God - From past experience Len. The last time we met - you called yourself Ben then - you wanted me to make the oceans and skies blue. I did so. Now, nobody seems to look at them in awe and thrill. In fact, you have “scientific” explanations as to why the skies and oceans are blue.
Len - So then.....maybe we should search for some other miracle.....Something that science cannot explain....
God - Then that gets classified as a coincidence, a stroke of luck, a bizarre oddity or at best something that will be explained by science in due time. Then you guys go about making theories.......
Len - But God! The whole skies turning pink along with all the waters in all oceans is indeed a miracle. It DEFINTELY IS A MIRACLE!!
God - That's your faith Len.....
Len - Now what does that mean?
God - See Len, have you ever wondered as to the beauty of how your heart beats, how you breathe, how you do things that a tree or a stone cannot? That is my miracle Len. A dead body has all the chemicals, structures and proteins of a live body; but it is not the same. Your life is a miracle.
Len - Wow! If seen that way, the wonders of the world will make us experience miracles always!
God - Hahahahaha! Len, you have stumbled upon a great secret. If one has faith, every breath that one takes becomes a miracle, an experience of the cosmic consciousness. But without faith, even if a ‘miracle’ like the skies and oceans turning pink happens, you take it as some bizarre occurrence, an oddity or at best an unexplained scientific phenomena. Its faith that makes an experience, a miracle. Without faith, the grandest of experiences too get slighted
I stopped reading at this point. The answer that I was seeking had been thumped into me in such a strange sequence of events. What a coincidence!
Hey! There I go again - coincidence indeed! Is it not said that co incidences and miracles where God chooses to be anonymous? I have my faith. This is no coincidence. This was the answer to my question. Never saw that book again after that day.Hope to find it someday, somewhere.
Now, why this whole elaborate story?
Listening to the heart is to take a leap of faith. And faith seeks no reason. It seeks no rationale. It is calm and steady for it is based on something far superior to logic.
When there is a situation swimming in us and we seek an answer - we hear so many voices. These are not multiple voices but two voices actually - the mind and the heart.
And the answer boils down to...
1. There was also a nice answer that was presented there and I thank my brother, Amey, for it - "Swami often says that in the battle between head and heart there is no good or bad / right or wrong decision but only peace or conflict... Know that when there is peace it is a decision the heart has corroborated and when there is conflict... well, the heart has taken its day off!"
2. The mind is the one that tries to reason. It is always seeking logic. Since logic is based on acquired and processed information, it is definitely not all encompassing. So, the mind finds it very difficult to arrive at the PERFECT answer. Thus, it throws up choices seeking to select the best possible one from so many. It is the mind that sounds itself in multiple voices.
The heart on the other hand does not suggest. It calmly says what has to be done. Many times, this solution does not seem logical at all. In fact, it may surprise you as to why this solution is even being said from within you. Neither does the heart offer any choice; it presents the one answer - simple and straightforward.
As soon as the heart provides the solution, the mind immediately leaps up with all the pros and cons of the solution. Not “all” the pros and cons for the mind can never comprehend “all” of them. The heart does not try to disprove the mind. It simply sticks to its guns.
The mind speaks like this, “You should do this....or wait....maybe this too. But the third option also should be considered. The reasons are as follows - 1,2,3,4 etc. There are also reasons why you should not do each of these and these are 1a,2a,3a,4a etc.”
The heart speaks like this, “Do this.”
The mind immediately jumps to analyse the solution of the heart and throws up the pros and cons.
The heart silently yet firmly remains unruffled - “Do this”, it says. No reasons given!
The many voices of the mind slowly drown the single sweet yet firm voice of the heart. After a while, the heart’s solution is almost forgotten for it is not heard. The heart is a gentleman while the mind is a brawler!
If I want to listen to my heart, I have to do one thing. Silence the mind!
And to do that, one has to get thoughtless for the mind is nothing but a bundle of thoughts. Now, this is no mean task. Its very tough to be ‘thoughtless’( in this sense of course!)The recourse is to reduce the thoughts. And how to do that - by concentrating on only one thought. And let that thought be anything - a lovely memory, God, a flame, a light, one’s breath. No wonder that concentration is the first step in meditation!
3. My teacher in college gave me this simple test to perform while determining the source of the "inner voice". It's called the the selflessness test. I am writing this as the third method because one has to be at a certain level of spiritual evolution before being able to use it. It is as simple as checking how selfless the prodding of the voice is. If it's selfish, it is the mind; if selfless, it is the conscience or heart because that is the voice of God.
Once the brawling mind is silenced or at least the noise is reduced, the voice of the heart is heard. All that is needed now is the courage to follow the heart. And to do that, one needs to take a leap of faith.
Will it give me success surely?
It will not be called the leap of faith then! ;)
© 2011 Aravind Balasubramanya
More by this Author
Whenever the question of Namasmarana or contemplation on the Lord's name comes up, I am always reminded of these three stories from Sri Sathya Sai Baba. They are inspiring and humorous.
Decision making is vital. But one often faces multiple choices for every decision to be made. There are different advocates for the way decisions have to be made. Given here is a dialogue between two 'advisors' that...
Dreams have always been mystical and symbolic and a lot has been written and recorded about them. Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba says that one cannot dream about Him unless He wills it.