- Religion and Philosophy»
- The Role of Religion in History & Society
Heart vs Mind -1 - A matter of choice
We have all read read the parable of the "Good Samaritan" which Jesus narrates. It is a famous parable and for those who are not conversant with it, I mention it in brief below.
Jesus asks from all who have gathered as to who is a good neighbour. When he does not get a satisfactory reply, he answers with a parable.
A Jewish traveller is robbed, beaten and left half dead by a devilish gang of robbers. A priest and a rich Levite pass that way but do not move even a finger to help the man in distress. Next comes a man from Samaria, a Samaritan. Samaritans and Jews are said to despise each other. But this man, nurses the injured traveller, takes him on his own donkey to a nearby inn, has him fed and clothed and pays the innkeeper for the night before leaving him in safe hands.
The colloquial phrase "good Samaritan," meaning someone who helps a stranger, derives from this parable, and many hospitals and charitable organizations are named after the Good Samaritan. But this story provokes many thoughts, dialogues and debates in the modern world. I attempt to portray one such dialogue here.
There are three members involved in the dialogue - the mind, the heart (conscience, seat of God, soul - the subtlest) and man (the witness who is the final decision maker)
Man: Let me go back to this parable now. The Priest and the Levite, both knew that the helpless man needed help. Yet they just moved on. Why?
Mind: I think that is simply because there was nothing in it for them. They had their own businesses to worry about and what could they have got if they helped that fellow who was stupid enough to let himself get attacked by bandits?
Man: Then what was there in it for the man from Samaria who went out of his way to help?
Heart: I feel that he simply felt oneness with the man suffering. He stopped to help because he felt the dying man's pain. The pain of the helpless man transformed into his own pain and it was in order to relieve himself that he rushed to his rescue.
Mind: This is all humbug. He simply lost time and money. And for what? What did he gain in return?
Heart: Hahahahaha! That is the paradox. What he gained is something that everyone must personally experience. And once you experience that joy and peace, no amount of money or time will be able to replace it in your priority list.
Man: It seems to me that while the priest and the Levite shared your thoughts, the Samaritan was convinced about what you feel.
Heart: And that is the difference between the selfish and the virtuous.
Mind: You call me selfish!!
Heart: Your guilt speaks for you!
Mind: Don't forget that the mind is man's most powerful tool.
Heart: And that is what it should remain - a tool! The heart should be man's master.
Man: Even as you argue, remember that the heart is residence of God.
Mind: I don't get it. Anytime anyone listens to me, they label them as selfish and greedy. Why?
Heart: Oh mind! That is because you tend to be easily corrupted by the negative forces prevailing in the world.
Man: And so those that listen to you in your corrupted state cause problems in some manner or the other or refuse to participate in problem solving even if they can. They sometimes tend to even obstruct problem solving.
Mind: What about the heart? Will it not get corrupted by the negative forces?
Heart: Being the seat of God, they don't have a chance of getting into me. I have no will of my own. Whatever I do is only what the Lord wills.
Mind: I wont agree! Don't be so boastful...
Man: Seen this way, we realize that every time we think of doing something, there is a tussle between the mind and the heart - with the two pulling in opposite directions.
Heart: If we say we love God, we love Swami, it must reflect in the choices that we make.
Mind: This is not true. People pray to God so many times. They talk to him. it is God who does not talk or respond. That is the problem and so they resort to my advice.
Man: This is something that I will not agree to. God always responds. If we do not hear the voice of God, or the voice of the conscience, whatever you may call it, it is because we have allowed the intellect to rust and become dysfunctional. The fault is entirely ours and not that of God. If a radio set or a television set is unable to receive signals, can it be said that the broadcast waves are faulty?
( the debate between the mind and heart goes on............but how does one know how to distinguish between the two voices?)
Read about it in Part 2.
© 2011 Aravind Balasubramanya