ASURU MASHWARA: THE ROLE OF THE HEART IN SEEKING THE PURPOSE OF LIFE
A life without a purpose is like a ship without a compass. We all need to know where we are going. If we don’t we would not even know if or when we get there. Therefore, the purpose of like has to be thought through and defined by each one of us. Some of us may have different types of goals but the overall purpose as the human kind is pretty much similar. We all want success and we want happiness. The road to these may be differently trekked but the destination for us all seem to be this thing called happiness. Some seek it through money and wealth translated as big bank accounts, latest cars and electronic gadgetry, the finest and elegant clothes or exclusive holidays. Others seek this through positions of power through politics, education, social standing, etc. And yet others seek it through spiritual ways and means. Still, the destination is the same - that of a bounty of happiness.
The way our being seeks this is through two portals. One is the head, and the other is the heart. The head is a biological computer that banks all our experiences in time and context. It is rich in information and it also analyses this in what we call the logical process. It can make rational decisions that make “sense” and put out ideas that are based on what we know. And it is always based on what we know, or said another way, through the crunching of information collected in the past. It’s all the past experiences. It cannot churn out anything truly new for it is not programmed to seek out such novelty. It can only bring out a plethora of permutations. Yet it is not truly new.
The heart, on the other hand, works through emotions. And its output is insight. This insight comes to us in the form of “ah moments”. Our brain can think through the traffic of thoughts in a busy buzz of terabytes, but the heart generates insights through the process of silence. That is why the connection to the heart comes from the practice of silence. Our daily lives are filled with thoughts and very few moments of silence. Yet in that silence do we get refreshed because we connect with our emotions and thus the heart. The heart is a better advisor to us than the brain. While the brain will seem logical, what the edgings of the heart tells us is the real truth. It filters the information we know through the emotions that make up our psyche, and generates the true feeling that is called the “gut” feeling. And that is the direction of the right decision for us. What the brain tells us to do may not be the best for us. We need to always listen to the heart. It will never lie, for this is the keeper of the soul or the seat of the soul.
But connecting to the heart is a very difficult thing in this modern world. In a globalizing world full of economic and consumerist activities, we are always enticed by a myriad of stimuli that vie for our time. And what wins is the egos goading, while the voice of the soul remains silent or at best very faint. It is no more than a tungsten light bulb in the mid-day sun. So the ego keeps us busy with the traffic of thoughts all day and never do we have a chance to silence our mind. Thus there is little chance to connect with the heart. So the head keeps on dominating out daily thought process and we only get “old wine in new bottles” so to say that we take as creative thoughts. But as just said earlier, these are mere permutations of old thoughts.
The real insights that are truly original comes not from the thinking of our brain, but the silence of the heart. We can connect with the heart by practicing silence and mindfulness. Being aware our very being in this place of silence cuts the traffic of the mind and we are able to cross the street to where the pure potentiality of insight and creativity lies. This is the realm of the spirit. Our prayers, meditation, mindful behavior, and the attention we give to our heart in active ways (spending time in silence, taking a walk with nature in parks on the beach or in the woods) operationalize this connection and creative thoughts flow in.
It is the spiritual dimension that we practice daily in Islam of the five prayers are times our creator in His infinite wisdom provided for us as rest, recuperation and the opportunity to live life in the freshness of new thoughts. But first we need a kindling of the faith in this mercy and compassion of the creator. The brain is about the body and how through its logical process maintains ourselves in this worldly existence. But the preparation for the Hereafter is also a part of living in this world. It is a time to collect our merits that will give us the passport to Jannah. It is the school where we have to pass the test of life. The heart is the hidden treasure that we have to get prepared for the spiritual journey by purifying our actions here through the awareness of the position of the heart in this journey.
The connection with the heart will bring us that joy and happiness that will be lasting. It is the connection with Allah, the source of our happiness. Whereas the head makes the rational connection with all the life process that are outward, and we continue to commit the mistake of seeking the fortunes of this world because we are ignorant (the ego or Iblees in his deceitful ways) keeps us ignorant of the weak voice of the soul that comes from the heart.
Faith will break this barrier and make us smile again (the smile is a very overt and robust sign o the believer), and envelop our selves with the positive emotions that are by themselves infective and so become pervasive in society. The heart is a thinking organ. Thus says even modern science.