What exactly is the Path of the Heart? And what do I mean by the Path of Consciousness?
Let’s start this huge question by clarifying the goal of all spiritual paths. I will define it this way: The goal is to experience our true nature as identical or abiding in the infinite Source of creation. Sometimes this is called Self Realization and God Realization, or Unity Consciousness. There are many nuances to this definition, but this is a reasonable starting point.
This infinite Source of creation is called the Universal Heart, Pure Consciousness, or God depending on your tradition. Is there a difference?
Perhaps surprisingly, there is a difference.
It’s as if there is a vast beautiful mansion with many doors. We enter through one door, but each entrance has a different flavor and feel. Different paths lead us through different doors. They are all wonderful. Fortunately, they all include and lead to the joy of service. This is why teachers teach and serve instead of just enjoying themselves in silent bliss.
Do you remember the ancient Indian story of the six blind men and the elephant? One man feels the trunk, another the legs, the tusk, the ears, the tail, the side of the body, etc. The man who feels the tail says an elephant is like a rope; the leg is like a tree trunk, the side is like a wall, etc. These are the different doors to the Absolute.
In the vast and great body of Vedic Literature from India, there are six schools of Indian Philosophy. Each is like a blind man experiencing the Absolute. These schools are called the six darshanas. Darshan means sight or view. Perhaps you have heard of getting “Darshan” from a master from India? It means the master glances at you and sees you, imparting a blessing to you. It also means how we see creation.
In the west we are most familiar with Yoga and the expansion of consciousness. This comes from the Yoga Sutras of Maharishi Patanjali – one of the six Darshanas. This is what I refer to as the Path of Consciousness. The doorway is through the mind. We quiet the mind by experiencing finer and finer levels of thinking until we transcend and can experience the source of thought, or Pure Consciousness. This is described as Sat-Chit-Ananda, or Eternal Bliss Consciousness.
We are not familiar at all with the other five schools of Indian Philosophy. Let me tell you about one of them, the Karma Mimansa Sutras of Maharishi Jamani. Karma means action and it includes the sense of energy. Mimansa means analysis, so this view of the world deals with the analysis of energy and action. There is no transcendent, no pure consciousness here, only deeper and deeper levels of energy.
It is the Heart that is the center of our Energetic Body. We measure our consciousness by our brainwaves. It is the heart that generates the electromagnetic field of our Energy Body. Science hasn’t yet mapped out heart waves as well as brain waves, but we do know our heart waves are at least 100 times more powerful than our brain waves.
This makes following the Path of the Heart very dramatic and very transformative.
One way to describe the Path of the Heart is to say we experience finer and finer levels of energy until we merge into the Source of all energy – the Universal Heart, the field of Infinite Love, the field of Infinite Dynamism.
The Transcendent, the field of Pure Consciousness, is a field of Infinite Silence. The Path of Love speaks of Infinite Love and Infinite Dynamism. Which is it? Infinite Silence or Infinite Dynamism? What is the nature of this mansion we want to enter? Is this elephant a rope, a tree trunk, or a wall?
The Infinite is both Silent and Dynamic. That’s just the way it is – it includes all qualities because it is infinite. We can experience them both, but depending upon which door we enter, we will experience one more fully and completely than the other.
That’s the source of my original question in this blog. Which would you prefer – a quiet mind or an open, loving heart?
We are also somewhat familiar with or aware of Sufism and Taoism, and of course we are aware of the amazing teachings of Jesus.
The symbol of Sufism is a Heart with wings – a flying Heart. Depending on the branch of Sufism, it is a very heart centered approach to spiritual growth.
Jesus is of course all about the Heart. His message is the message of love and forgiveness. We love our neighbors as ourselves, and giving is a greater blessing than receiving. But the Path of the Heart is more than the path of good behavior. Jesus taught in parables, and had private teaching for the disciples.
The disciples came to him and asked, “Why do you speak to the people in parables?” He replied, “Because the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them.”
It is my sincere belief – and my experience – that these “Secrets of the kingdom of heaven” have been revealed in the teachings of early mystics of Christianity – the Desert Fathers and Mothers of the 3rd and 4th centuries.
In the next blog on this track, we will explore these extraordinary teaching of the heart – the door way to the Kingdom of Heaven.