"You can't serve two gods." You may not realize that you have more than one faculty of intelligence, but you do. You have two. Your heart and your mind. Maybe you've never considered your heart a faculty of intelligence, but it is. It's your greatest faculty. Unfortunately, it is by no mistake that you've never been told this. We live in a world created by our minds and our minds like to be in control, but if we have two faculties, then we have a choice regarding which one to use in order to navigate through life. If you live in an artificial world created by the minds of men and women, you are more likely to rely on your mind to live within it rather than your heart. Again, you may have never even realized that your heart is a faculty to rely on because matters of the heart are usually delegated to only one area of our lives, the emotional, but emotions are not the ony feelings your heart senses. It is capabable of much more. Both faculties, the heart and the mind, are truly amazing and we cannot live by one without the other. If we want to be truly happy, they have to work together in harmony. What is happiness, a thought or a feeling? Do you think happy or feel happy? Where does this feeling come from your heart or your mind? Rather than ask you more questions, I'll tell you what someone should have told you a long time ago.
Your mind is your greatest general capable of executing lightening fast decisions and calculations, but your heart is your commander and chief. Your mind has intelligence, but your heart has wisdom. Your mind was designed to serve your heart. Your mind is the ultimate taskmaster. It is a monster of productivity, but it does not possess the foresight and vision to be in control of the big picture. There is far too much unknown about life. As hard it may try, the mind can never understand it all, nor should it try to control it all. It's job is in the trenches getting stuff done. The heart bypasses all the literal obvious areas of life and connects to the unknown. Get the roles of these faculties reversed and you may accomplish a lot of things, but you will never be truly happy. Instead, you will always have an overwhelming compulsion to be in control. Your mind's greatest fear is lack of control. It feeds off fear. Without fear, it is lost without purpose unless the heart gives it one. It's job is to be in control of all the things that the heart delegates for it to be in control of like food, water, shelter, safety, etc., but if your heart is not in charge, your mind will try to be in charge of everything which is something it is simply not capable of. It will fail miserably. It will run your world rampant constantly upheaving your peace and happiness. All it knows is more, more, more. Nothing is ever enough because it is fueled by it's fear of not being in control of life. The world is uncontrollable. All we can control is ourselves. The mind doesn't understand that it is not capable of being in control of everything. It doesn't know what it doesn't know. It is a finite faculty. The world and universe are infinite. Our minds are no different than computers calculating 1's and 0's. Your heart, on the other hand, does not operate on fear. It faces them removing their power over you. Your heart doesn't protect you from fear. It walks right through them. It is connected to something much greater than you and your mind. It is your connection to everything else that is infinite, undefinable and unknowable. Neglect your heart and you may never enjoy the wonders of life, love and happiness. You will simply be reduced to a consumer, something that devours everything in the hopes of finally satisfying the infinite void that the mind can never fill. Your mind is petrified by this void. Your heart revels in it. Let your mind lead you and, yes, you will experience empty and immediate gratification with everything it does, but this will never be enough. It doesn't know any better. It is a child without its master. Make it an obedient one. This is what it needs. Let it serve your heart. It will astound you finally knowing its place and role in your life while your heart leads you to places and experiences that you never could've imagined.
The mind has tried to create a finite world on top of the infinite one to make it feel safe and if you're not paying attention you might believe that it has succeeded only because you are viewing it through your mind's eye. Out of sight, out of mind. Your heart sees more. It feels more. The two faculties must be working in conjunction otherwise you will be living in a fear-based short-lived world destined to collapse. Fear is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Let it run your life and you will never escape it. The heart must conquer your fears and rule. It is not the job of the heart to exile the mind. You need it! It is invaluable, but it cannot rule, no more than a child can rule the world, no matter how brilliant. It has the power of ambition, but it simply does not posses the wisdom of experience. How do we protect this innocence before we grow cynical and jaded by the time we are adults? With our hearts. The nature that gave us life is within it. We must obey it or we will perish and those ruling us with their minds will not think twice about it. They will be too busy selfishly saving themselves. They are children, too, and they know not what they do. The heart knows. The mind can be lied to and deceived, but the heart always knows. It knows the truth. It is the truth. All we have to do is quiet our minds and listen to it.
The heart is for the strong. It is much easier to live according to one's mind. That's the easy way out. Only the strong can live according to their hearts. Some may associate living according to one's heart with those touchy-feely people who are always talking about their feelings. These are not the strong that I am referring to. Those people are simply scared being controled by their minds and trying to get the world to cater to their fears which they are choosing to call feelings. The mind is a trickster and it doesn't want to relinquish control because it doesn't know any better. Do not be fooled. The heart's communication is a feeling, not a thought, but it is an instinct not an emotion. Like a blind man who's sense of hearing is more precise than a person's who can see, hearing one's heart takes practice because we have been trained by the mind-made world to ignore it for so long. Luckily, it is completely natural and intuitive and returns to us very quickly having been within us all along.
When I was in college with one semester left before graduation -meaning, it was a time in my life when I didn't know jack, I had an experience, which I'm sure many people can relate to, that made me realize that this choice even existed. I was leaving my house running a little late for class and as I was closing the door behind me I got a distinct feeling in my stomach. The feeling was perceptible, but I ignored it. A few seconds later, I was standing next to my car in the driveway searching my pockets for my keys which is when I realized that I had just locked them in the house. Now, I was definitely going to be late. It wasn't the end of the world, but I describe this experience because it's such a normal everyday occurrence. We've all gotten that feeling like we were forgetting something.
Of course, it wasn't the first time I'd felt it. I probably ignored it all the time hardly even realizing it, but sometimes I did realize it. About two years before, the same choice was presented to me, but with a little more at stake. Ignoring it this time landed me behind bars. As we trial and error our way through our youth, often times it's our mistakes that force us to take notice of the choices we are making. A few of my friends and I were drinking on the beach with some girls. We were 19, not yet old enough to drink, so we hid a case of beer in the back seat of my car which was parked across the street and took turns running back and forth from the seawall to the lot for each round. It was my turn, but one of the girls had just said that she thought she saw a police cruiser over by my car a few minutes earlier and instead of leaving well enough alone, I was stupid and ran across the street to move it. During the day, the parking lot was always full of cars from all the people going to the beach, but, at this time of night, it was completely empty except for my car, a bright red Firebird. As soon as I started the engine, I was surrounded by police cruisers. I got arrested for minor possession of alcohol. I was cuffed and stuffed while my friends laughed and waived to me as I rolled past them in the back of the police car leaving them to figure out how they were going to get home from the beach. This was before the days of cell phones and uber. All and all, this wasn't the end of the world, either, but for a kid whose parents were very strict and whose older brother, a straight A student, never got in trouble, it did feel a little like the end of mine.
After dealing with some minor legal trouble, i.e. fines, and absorbing the wrath of my parents which was much worse than the legal trouble, what was most significant about the experience was that I got the exact same feeling in my stomach when I was running over to my car as I did when I was about to lock my keys in the house, two years later, and I ignored it both times. As I said, I'm sure I ignored it countless other times, as well, but this last time I was finally calm enough and in a place in my life where I was willing to ask the question "If I'm the one hurrying and about to make a mistake, who is the one telling me to stop?" I wasn't a religious person and I'm still not, but someone, or something, other than my brain was trying to communicate with me. It wasn't coming from my head. It was a feeling not a thought. Feelings are often associated with emotions like anger or sadness, but this, though it was a feeling, wasn't an emotion. It was an objective feeling that I could choose to listen to or not.
Being a decent mechanic and carpenter, I was comfortable with taking things apart and building them and this was the same approach I took in trying to understand this feeling. If something or someone was trying to communicate with me, even if it was just another part of myself, I was going to learn how to start listening. There was nothing far-fetched about it. It was as practical to me as any other tool and I was going to figure out how it worked and how to use it to help me through life. It clearly knew more than I did. My mind dealt with facts and thoughts. This was different. It came from someplace else, someplace vaster. I didn't understand it exactly and I didn't need to. All I had to do was learn how to listen to it better. For some reason, I trusted it probably because had I listened to it in the past I would have avoided many mistakes. Decades later, it has never been wrong. Never. I, on the other hand, still make mistakes all the time, but it's only when I try to think my way through a problem rather than stop and check in with that feeling. Listening to it isn't the hardest part. Slowing down and stopping myself in order to listen is. Both faculties of intelligence are extremely useful, but my mind's view is limited while this other part of myself is limitless. As time moved on in my life, I began calling the source of this feeling my "heart". It seemed like the simplest, most obvious way to distinguish these two faculties, heart and mind. My mind is easy to listen to. In fact, it never shuts up especially in the world we're living in, now, but, unfortunately, it's often wrong. This is no big deal. This is partly it's nature and how it works, by trial and error. This is how we learn. If you're not making mistakes, you're not learning. My heart, on the other hand, is much more subtle most of the time, but is never wrong. Sometimes it's not subtle at all and that's when I never ignore it. How to listen to both of them so that they are working together is what I needed to learn how to do next.
It felt a little corny calling the source of this feeling "heart" considering that it wasn't communicating with me through emotions, but the feeling resided somewhere in my chest between my stomach and my actual heart so that's what I called it. Sometimes when having a conversation about spirituality and religion, I'd refer to the feeling as "God, for lack of a better word." As I navigated through life and grew to rely on this source more and more, I can't tell you how many times it kept me safe and out of trouble, especially considering how I would live in years to come.
There's many ways to describe the difference between these two faculties of intelligence. Being a hands-on kind of person, the more simple a tool, the better I like it so I began dividing all of life into one of two categories: matters of the heart and matters of the mind. Though this feeling that I chose to cultivate a "relationship" with was not exactly an emotion according to my limited understanding of emotions, it was definitely more closely linked to my emotions than my thoughts. The mind is emotion-less. It doesn't feel anything. Just think of all the crazy ideas that have passed through your mind. Can you imagine the emotional reprecussions of some of them if you had put them into action? My mind is simply a collection of information, i.e., like data is to a computer. My heart, as I was learning, was a portal into something much more all encompassing. Thoughts themselves are void of feeling and emotion. I quickly realized that happiness is not an idea. It's a feeling so which faculty do you think I was going to rely on to point me in the direction of a living a happy life? Add the notion of truth to the situation and the decision was a no brainer -no pun intended. The feeling I'd get in my stomach was exactly this. It was the truth. "Stop, you are about to lock your keys in the house." This was a bit of truth that something wiser than my mind was trying to tell me. The beauty of mastering the ability to listen to this all-knowing source of truth is that all truth is interconnected. One piece of truth is connected to every other part of the truth. Meaning to live a truthful life, all I had to do was start being honest, i.e. admitting what was true for me, and it would lead me to all the other truth about life and the world.
As time went on, the partnership between my heart and my mind began to take shape. My heart became my compass and my mind was my ultimate worker. My heart was the general and my mind was its loyal soldier. My heart told me the truth and my mind tried its best to make sense of this crazy world in order to apply the truth to my life. I believe a lot of the unhappiness people experience, especially people who have a lot of material wealth, is a result of them having the wrong faculty in charge of their life.
The mind judges, the heart forgives.
The mind blames, the heart takes responsibility.
The mind fears, the heart loves.
The fact that we are living in a mind-made world makes it even harder for us to realize which we should be listening to a lot of the time. Many people, unfortunately, don't even have a healthy, working relationship with their hearts. Our hearts know the difference between right and wrong and our minds rationalize the decisions we make regardless of right or wrong. The further we get from the truth, the less use we have for our hearts, but they will always lead us back if we muster the courage to start listening.