“If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love. I am nothing.”
Kindness is not an act, but a lifestyle. We are citizens not only of the world, but the Universe and the Cosmos. We are part of the whole, albeit a part restricted by time and space. We experience and express our thoughts and feelings as distinct from the rest. A kind of optical delusion of our consciousness. A ‘delusion’ which is a spiritual prison for us, limiting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. And we are here to learn to liberate our hearts by adding latitude to the ambit of our compassion to embrace all living creatures and the fullness of nature in its’ majesty.
Love and compassion are not luxuries, but necessary for the survival of the human species, and its positive evolution. The Dalai Lama said “My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness”. Yet we are led to contemplate the heart as purely biological. In spite of the fact that the heart has an electromagnetic field fifty thousand times stronger than the electromagnetic field of the brain. A field which envelops the whole body extending out several feet in all directions. Indeed fifty per cent of heart cells are neural, forming their own neural network or intelligence of the heart. The heart is an organ of perception which disseminates information directly from its environment. The less we contract emotionally the more we activate the heart’s neural pathways. And to have an open heart is to be fully awakened and truly alive.
We therefore need to live with and through the heart. We can enter the heart by placing our attention on the rhythm of the heart in co-ordination with our breathing. The heart I speak of is the spiritual heart emanating on the right side of the chest from the sinoatrial node from whence commences the human heartbeat.
This heart rhythm meditation emerged during the time of St Paul the Apostle as integral to the Jesus Prayer. So that one would recite the syllables of the prayer in conjunction with the beating heart. Which is the motor of life itself. The mystical way was to breathe through the heart, whilst glancing into the heart, feeling the heartbeat, and reciting the sacred name in the presence of God. St John Climacus 579-649 AD, author of ‘The Ladder of Divine Ascent’ exclaimed “May the memory of Jesus be united with your breathing,”
The more we feel the heartbeat flowing from the sinoatrial node which is located on the upper right section of the heart, just on the right side of the chest, the profounder will emerge the blissful nectar and sweetness of the compassionate heart. The deeper we will be able to love. The more we will recognise that we are consubstantial with all that exists. Physiologically our blood pressure will reduce, and our pulse become more regular and rhythmic. Our circulation and oxygenation levels will be enhanced making us more energetic because of the naturally deeper breathing that will ensue. There will be a dispersal of red blood cells clumping together. As a result of the better exchange of oxygen between haemoglobin and surrounding tissues. Furthermore, the thymus gland will be triggered to produce more T cells reinforcing our immune system. And moreover, in esoteric terms, the heart will produce vastly more photons, more light. Elevating the magnetism and bioluminescence of our human aura.
Compassion means contemplating the kindness of others. It means cherishing the good fortune and joy in the hearts of even strangers. A heart overflowing with compassion will feel warmth, forgiveness and cherish the well-being of even one’s enemies and those that have been unkind to us. Learning in business to be compassionate towards people who are often unreasonable, or trying to take advantage of you is a challenging process. A kind heart is a humble heart. No matter how luxurious your house, how expensive your car or how opulent your clothes, and how immense your bank account your grave will always be the same size.
Often people disappoint and annoy me. Perhaps some times I expect too much from people, and other times it is virtually impossible to justify the attitude and behaviour of some people. It is at this point that we need to try and look into the other person’s heart and understand the painful experiences and unique challenges they have faced. When we remember this we will tend to treat each other more gently, with more love, patience, tolerance and care.
A compassionate heart is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength of character. Equally compassion sometimes means to be decisive and strong. It means having the heart to allow people to be free to learn from their own mistakes. Learning to cultivate compassion is a great art. Knowing how to practice compassion in each of life’s circumstances is truly a gift of discernment. Which we unravel gradually through a life embedded in prayer and a heart of limitless feeling. Many times to be compassionate to ones whims and misguided actions is to facilitate a persons conscious our unconscious negative intentions. As when we may give money to a gambler, or to one who is then discouraged from working or taking responsibility for their own lives. Or spoiling our children to the extent that we make the rest of their lives unsettled and miserable. You see compassion is the most simple and natural thing for each of us, but it carries the greatest responsibility. Each of us has limited resources, albeit more or less, and compassionate action is accompanied by choices. To give to him or to her, to donate to one charity or another.
So our heart must be limitless, even if our resources our not. Our challenge is to feel the pain of others as our pain, and to know that when we change our heart we can change everything. And that the poverty, the famine, the hunger and the wars on our planet can be changed not by changing political and economic systems but by simply changing the hearts of men and women.
In the Tibetan Buddhist practice of Tonglen we try to connect with the suffering all around us. We begin the practice by taking on the suffering of a person we know to be hurting. You breathe in to your heart the wish to take away all the pain, suffering and fear from that person. Then, as you breathe out you send the person health, joy and happiness. We begin with people we care about, then others we know less and slowly we can widen our practice to even those who have hurt us. We can even practice Tonglen on those who have passed over, animals and even our planet which is being hurt by the hands of men. As we breathe in their pain and suffering we then breathe out from our heart the image of what we would like them to be.
Tonglen frees us from selfishness. However, often when we try to feel the limitless nature of our heart in this way we will confront our own inner demons of fear, resistance, anger or personal pain. Though with persistence this tightness of our heart will dissolve and we will learn to feel the immeasurable bliss of exploring the truth of our own feelings and freedom within our heart. And we cannot bathe in the bliss of the limitless heart until we are honest enough with ourselves to shine the bright light on to our own thoughts and feelings. So much so that we should not be afraid to detoxify our emotions with what esotericists describe as our own “dark night of the soul”.
” For this people’s heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed; lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I will heal them.” – Acts 28;27