Every human being consciously or instinctively seeks love. On a more basic level this is expressed as looking for emotional fulfillment. Emotional fulfillment relates to both receiving and giving love, affection, and emotional nourishment. As our body needs to be nurtured, so does our soul – her sustenance is love. As we evolve, our desires evolve, and so do our emotional needs and our concept of love. How we perceive receiving and giving love is directly connected to how deep is our relationship with our own existence. If this connection is shallow, our idea of love becomes simplistic and superficial. If we have no love to our own self, how can we have the positive experience of love in the world of duality, the world of relating to others? Being overly identified with seeking love externally is always an indication that our heart lacks the basic connection to itself.
The positive expression of love is the natural emanation of the self-fulfilled heart: the heart that has become love unto itself. Otherwise, seeking the experience of love is a mere compensation for the lack of love within. Since we do not have love, we seek to experience it in relation to others. Initially, this is natural because our heart is unconscious and needs to get in touch with itself by finding a resemblance of its emotional fulfillment through external reflections. It is like at the beginning of our creation we need the other to know that we exist. However, sooner or later, we must recognize that in seeking external love, we are in fact searching for our own heart. If we refuse to learn this lesson, the never-ending seeking for love will lead to constant frustration and disappointment. It is similar to searching for enlightenment but refusing to meet oneself. The heart that cannot be fulfilled through its own love is like a container with no bottom; it can never be filled, not even with the love of the whole universe.
To come closer to the essence of love, our heart needs to awaken. However, in order to truly awaken, it must awaken within the context of our whole being, our soul. Even if the heart opens up and reaches a higher connection to its pure subjectivity, this realization can never be complete without being integrated with the other centers of the soul. The heart is not only a place where we realize love, but it is also an integral part of our higher identity. To awaken the heart is to awaken an essential aspect of our very existence. Therefore, our evolution into the heart has to be directly connected to the process of our awakening as our complete self. We have said in other places that each dimension of awakening, no matter how profound, is incomplete in isolation from the context of our whole being. Those who are on the path of love and yet neglect other aspects of their evolution can never realize their complete heart.
Though very different from the mind, the structure of the heart bares similarities to that of the mind in terms of how it has many layers linked to our personality and its pure nature is absent unless activated. The heart is like the mind of our emotional existence. It is interesting that in Chinese the character for the mind (shin) is the same as for the heart, which always creates an issue for those translating Zen scriptures. The superficial layers of the heart resemble the ego in the mind; only in the heart, emotions are being processed instead of thoughts. Additionally, the mind and the heart are in direct connection, each fully influencing the other. Similar to the mind, in order to realize our pure nature in the heart, our me needs to go beyond its superficial layers and surrender to the innermost space of I am.
There are three dimensions of the heart: personal, individual, and universal. The personal dimension is directly intertwined with our human emotional existence. We experience the need for emotional satisfaction and feelings like sadness, pain, compassion, and human love within the personal dimension of the heart. The individual dimension is the first level of pure subjectivity of the heart where we realize the heart as our identity, as our soul. The universal dimension of the heart is its inner transpersonal depth, the divine realm. As we evolve into the heart, the personal is gradually merging with the individual and the individual with the universal, giving rise to the realization of the complete heart. Within the complete heart, the three dimensions still retain their unique qualities but now exist in the state of unity. Whereby the universal is the foundation and the personal is the most external expression, the individual is the connecting identity. The I am of the heart is the bridge between our me and the divine, at the meeting of which our soul is realized.
It is common to confuse personal expressions of love for pure love. Personal love requires personal connections since it must be channeled through our emotional body. People imagine that someone whose heart is awakened must constantly project personal love towards others: being constantly ‘loving’ and caring, and pleasing other people’s emotional need for attention and affection. But to be in the state of love is to relate to others from a much deeper place than the personal. While the personal dimension may be engaged when it is appropriate, to truly relate from the place of love is to relate from the soul, from non-separation from the other. However, those who cannot recognize this pure love because their own emotional needs are not met may easily mistake it for indifference or emotional distance. It takes a soul to see and know the soul of another.
When one’s heart is closed, one simply cannot feel it. It is inactive, dormant. Those with a closed heart also experience emotions and feelings, but they are not in touch with their origin. They experience them either through their lower emotional centers or through the mind. Their emotional existence is mostly confined to their need for physical and psychological survival; it is shallow and bears no connection to the soul. This is the life of an ego, a robotic personality living yet not living at all. The desire to awaken our heart, to go beyond all our masks and begin to truly feel the essence of our existence, is the beginning of the spiritual path; it is the dawn of becoming a true human being.
The heart is the center of feeling. Emotions and feelings are often similar, but feelings point more to the soul while emotions point to our psychological identity. Feeling is one of the main aspects of cognition. Without feeling, everything is empty and insignificant. Feeling is not only experienced in the heart; it is inseparable from how the soul knows herself. Hence, it is naturally an integral part of consciousness and being. We can appreciate the value of consciousness because it feels good to be consciousness; the qualities of serenity, luminosity, or bliss that are indivisible from pure consciousness are actually feelings. The qualities of repose, restfulness, absorption, absence, and bliss that are a natural part of the samadhi in the absolute state are also feelings. If we did not feel the natural happiness from being in these states, we would not care to reach them. In high dimensions of feeling, feeling is one with our sense of identity; our identity is feeling itself as pure subjectivity.
While the soul knows herself through feeling, the essence of her feeling existence is in the heart. The nature of the heart is pure feeling: feeling that is conscious of itself. It is this feeling that is called love. Love is the feeling of divinity, for this is how the divine feels herself. Love is the highest frequency of feeling. The evolution of the heart can be seen as evolution of feeling into itself, the process of awakening to the highest level of intimacy. At the beginning when our heart is unconscious, its feeling dimension is unconscious as well, and all of its feelings are lost in the personality. The heart seeks desperately to feel happy through the wrong channels, and instead it becomes more and more conscious of being unhappy, of being in pain. In fact, for most it is their pain that allows them to know that they have a heart. As we become more conscious spiritually, we begin to use our pain to get in touch with the deeper dimension of the heart, with its pure subjectivity. We begin to search in our heart for the answer to our constant emotional emptiness and lack of fulfillment. We begin to feel the source of love inside our own existence.
For the heart to awaken, first it has to open energetically. Its energy dimension is a doorway to the inside of the heart. But to actually enter our heart we must awaken that part of me which can experience it directly, the true experiencer of the heart – pure me. While the energetic depth of the heart is impersonal, the I am of the heart, the one who embodies the heart is personal. This personal aspect of our existence is not the unconscious me who is lost in emotions, but the conscious, awake, pure dimension of me – the one who can be unified with I am. I am is both the gateway to the divine and the light of creation that serves as the alchemical substance for the birth of our sacred individuality. The unity of pure me and I am gives rise to the actualization of our soul. The dimension of the soul that is realized in the heart is her identity of love.
The search to get in touch with our heart needs to be directly linked to the awakening of our soul. It has to be connected to our higher intelligence or else it becomes futile and unconscious. Those who want to evolve through their heart and yet ignore the growth of their intelligence become increasingly lost in the inherent emotional fluctuations of their unconscious heart. They ‘feel’ too much; their emotions are out of control and rule them, disconnecting them even further from the peace of their true self. This is common on the path of devotion that often leads to emotional intoxication, just adding more confusion to our suffering. But what is the true path of devotion? Where is the object of our devotion? Is it outside of oneself? Where is the outside? Where is the inside? How do we worship the divine? What is the meaning of prayer?
There is only one true path: the path to reality. The path to reality must embrace both awakening to our complete self and arriving at the state of unity with the light of creation as one. Unless we honor our own self, there is no such a thing as devotion to god. To exercise devotion to one’s idea of god without being devoted to the realization of our soul is to defy the very purpose of our creation. This is not devotion; this is living in a lie. The true object of devotion is the subject. To practice devotion is to surrender to our higher nature, to the pure nature of our existence. Who is the devotee? Our me is the lover, and I am is the beloved. When they merge as the union of two lights, they become the one light of the soul. And then our soul assumes the role of the lover and the divine becomes the beloved. After the soul reaches samadhi in the divine, based on the sacred duality, she continues to be in a relationship of devotion and surrender with the supreme. While the doorway to the divine is our inmost heart, in order to surrender to the universal reality as a whole, the soul has to surrender as a whole as well, from all her centers. Holistic devotion points to the total surrender of our complete soul into the whole of existence.
For our heart to be complete, not only does it have to be fully open and self-realized, but it must be integrated with the other dimensions of the soul: pure consciousness, being, and pure me. It is not enough that consciousness is linked to the heart; it has to merge with the heart. The state of surrender of consciousness in the heart is the samadhi in the heart. This samadhi goes deeper and deeper until the whole of consciousness is in samadhi, including pure me of consciousness and conscious me. Then, for the heart to fully contain its pure nature, it itself must be in samadhi in the absolute; meaning, the heart has to be in the state of vertical surrender in the source. So, consciousness is in samadhi in the heart, and the heart is in samadhi in the absolute. The heart can reach relative horizontal samadhi in the divine, but through the portal of the absolute it merges with the higher dimension of the divine, the one which is unified with the realm of absence and universal consciousness.
Love is the pure subjectivity of the heart. To define it even more accurately, it is the state of the heart in unity with consciousness and being, illuminated with the light of I am. When it is further embodied by pure me, it becomes integrated into our higher individuality, our soul, and then we can say we have become love.
When our heart is realized and we merge with the source of love, we arrive at the place of unconditional fulfillment. We feel whole at last. Our being is as a mountain, our consciousness as a sun, and our heart as a blue sky embracing all existence. Our love is not self-conscious, not aware of itself; it is free and all-pervasive. We do not relate to others as objects of our love, but rather we feel a natural oneness with all of life; we do not see the other as being outside of our heart. We are not giving and we are not receiving – we are in love. To become love is to embody the state of love, to become our soul in her natural unity with the divine.
The heart cannot be realized unless our human self surrenders. No matter how much it clings to its concept of human love, sooner or later it has to surrender to its higher self. The ego aspect of the heart has to be dissolved in the soul. The longer it resists, the longer it will be in pain. Before it can fully surrender, the structure of its identity has to open up or even be broken down if needed. That part which cannot surrender has to die in the heart, to be sacrificed for our true self to enter. At times, a deep healing is needed, but this healing will not happen unless our human heart agrees to surrender, becomes one with the intention to surrender. It is this intention that allows the light of the soul to penetrate and heal the human dimension of the heart. The price of healing is our surrender to our divine self.
Through surrender to the heart of the soul, our human heart is not eliminated. It continues to coexist with the soul. But now it is hers; it belongs to the soul. It becomes her human expression in the dimension of human feelings. The human heart may still experience emotional needs of a relaxed nature because realizing our soul does not make us stop being human. In fact, we become a true human, the human soul. The realization of our higher self should not be misconstrued for a simplistic and one-dimensional concept of freedom, the kind of freedom that makes one pursue the ideal of not wanting or needing anything. This extreme view of emotional independency is against the nature of our human existence, against the nature of the human soul. Even if the human aspect of the soul continues to have natural desires and needs, they do not diminish in any way her freedom, her sense of being whole and fulfilled. A self-realized being does not become a rock: he is gentle and sensitive; he feels everything with great intensity; in fact, he feels much more than others do. But he feels from his soul, from the divine, from the depth of his abiding place in the invisible realm of the supreme self. He feels because he is free to feel. He feels because he has become love.
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