Friday, 25 April 2014

Animism and the heart


I keep coming across a triadic division of human perception and judgement which divides thinking into heart, head and gut; which places the 'heart' above, and in authority over, the 'head' and the 'gut' (the actual names vary).

In other words, that there is an intellectual-abstract way of evaluating (the head) and an instinctive-animal way of evaluating (the gut) and these are mainstream, and ubiquitous and well understood in modern society - which is in practice divided and alternating between dry analysis and unfettered emotion -

But that properly both of these are ruled by a 'Heart' way of evaluating which we have largely lost, but which we can usually be led to recognize, so long as we acknowledge its reality.


Most recently I came across this in William Arkle:

The spiritually oriented personality is better understood to be working through what we might call the mindfulness of the heart.

Generally speaking we do not take this heart awareness seriously, for we have been schooled to trust only in our head logic. But in other parts of the world, and in different cultures, the mind which belongs to our heart centre is taken as seriously as our head centred mind...

To those of us who have only learned to trust our heads, this heart nature can seem to be an expression of uneducated, undisciplined, and irrational feelings. This devaluing of the mindfulness of the heart is liable to be caused by it being confused with the solar plexus centre, which is the centre of our lower emotional nature, but it may also be caused by the aggressive and inappropriate attitude of our head awareness...

Because heart mindfulness reflects the reference nature of our spiritual individuality, it is in this centre of our nature that we should look for that primal synthesis which has come to be attuned to the understanding of a great many things.

Within this synthesis the portrait of our God can appear, if we choose to look for it, since it is made up of all those varied indications of His character which have come to us from every direction, and which the reference nature naturally tries to combine into one whole picture. Thus it is often said by spiritual teachers that it is by our heart that we shall know God.


For this teaching of the heart to become anything more than nice, warm, touchy feel-good stuff - for heart awareness to be regarded as truly superior to the intellect and the instincts, such that we would properly, justifiably, actually live (or die) by it - requires a metaphysical revolution.

It requires that reality be such that the heart knows, has access to, knowledge about reality; and in practice this implies a connection.

What, in principle, could the heart be connected-with that the brain and the gut perceive only indirectly?

I would say, the aliveness of things.

Therefore; the heart is the 'organ' by which we know the animistic universe - which is primary reality.




BSN said...

Very interesting post Bruce.

My question: how do we get out from under the empire of the empirical? (or to think of it in another way, much like how earlier periods had to be removed from the hand of Aristotle)

I seem to recall from your earlier posts that science grew and was popularized by doing "what worked." Thus, science developed - I suppose - through a practiced utilitarianism in evaluating everyday life. So the only thing that could be true was what worked.

My question: what would it look like to live where we don't use evidence for every decision? And how would this work?

Would it mean being "outside" more often? Would we notice and learn more things by being in the natural environment more often? Would we learn that many of the assumptions that we have about life under the sun are actually wrong when we remove ourselves from abstractoid prisons? Or is it something different...

Bruce Charlton said...

@BSN - More than half the battle involves:

1. Recognizing the problem

2. Wanting to solve it

I think beyond that, individuals might try different strategies - trial and error.

Adam G. said...

For me, the way out wasn't a way out at all. It was simply figuring out that my own experience counted too. My own spiritual sensations were also evidence.